Paramount // 1994 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 17th, 2003
Albert Einstein (the late Walter Matthau, in a career capping performance) was known as one of the world's most brilliant minds. He was a physicist of grandiose measures. But did you know that Mr. Einstein was also a cunning matchmaker? In director Fred Schepisi's (Roxanne) warmhearted comedy, great minds come together to create sparks between Albert's highly intelligent niece, Meg (Meg Ryan, Kate & Leopold), and grease monkey auto mechanic Ed Walters (Tim Robbins, Bull Durham). Unfortunately, the famed Einstein has his work cut out for him: Catherine already has a stuffy British fiancé (Stephen Fry, Peter's Friends) who works as a scientist testing electrodes on rat genitals. Catherine is also convinced that she must have children with a man of unparalleled mind power so they turn out to be super geniuses. Albert's answer? Make Ed out to be a complex thinker who comes up with an idea for nuclear powered spacecrafts! As lies pile onto complications, Ed finds himself the center of the country's attention -- including then President Dwight D. Eisenhower -- in his attempts at wooing Catherine into his arms. It will take all of Uncle Albert's skills as a man of science (and the heart) to get Catherine and Ed to fall in love.
There isn't a whole lot to I.Q., but what there is really sparkles. The film doesn't aim to be the wittiest romantic comedy ever made, nor does it attempt to change the cinematic world as we know it. What I.Q. does do is tell the story of two people who are destined to be together but they don't know it...yet. It's a cute little movie without being overly sentimental. In a stroke of brilliant casting, Walter Matthau plays the almost mythical Albert Einstein (there is a striking resemblance between the two) in what should have been an Oscar awarded performance. Aside of pictures I have no idea how Einstein really acted in real life. If he was anything like his character in I.Q., Albert would have been great fun to hang out with -- Matthau injects the character with wit and humor to spare. Meg Ryan walks through her role with ease -- by this point Ryan had become a pro at acting in romantic comedies. Even so, the actress finds the right balance between cuteness and stubbornness. 1994 was a banner year for Tim Robbins -- aside of I.Q. the actor was also featured in the Coen Brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy and the now classic The Shawshank Redemption. Here Robbins shows off his comedic chops by inhabiting a character who's goofy, amiable, and charming. Robbins is a rare actor who is able to perform both comedy and drama with the greatest of ease. At first Ed seems like a bit of a dope, but it turns out he's got more than just monkey wrenches floating inside his noggin, and it's clear that he and Catherine could make beautiful music -- I mean, equations -- together. There's a lot to like in I.Q. -- instead of being typical romantic fluff, the movie beams with intelligence, which in turn produces warmth (funny = I + W ²). Peppered throughout the movie are magical little moments, as when Ed takes Albert on a motorbike ride through the country ("Wa-hoo!"). Maybe because of its setting (college campuses, labs, and Albert Einstein's house) the film never feels dumbed down or contrived. The characters are all sharp people who learn how to make choices with both their hearts and their minds. You can't begrudge a movie that tries so hard to be nothing more than a witty, fun Friday night date movie. And I.Q. is most certainly (and happily) that.
I.Q. is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Paramount has done a decent job at bringing this film to DVD with a minimum of defects. There are a few imperfections in the transfer (including some edge enhancement), though overall this is solid looking image. The colors are all bright with the black levels appearing solid with only the slightest tint of gray in them. I.Q. doesn't provide viewers with a reference quality transfer but it does the job just fine. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. I was more than happy with this 5.1 mix -- all of the speakers are used generously whenever Jerry Goldsmith's bouncy themes come into play. There are a few moments where directional effects are used (including a rainstorm sequence), though the bulk of this track is mostly front heavy. All aspects of the mix (dialogue, music, effects) are free of distortion. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in English, a Stereo mix in French, and English subtitles.
It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out why I.Q. is void of any supplements -- this is one of Paramount's catalog titles, which means you don't get squat.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated PG