Warner Bros. // 1989 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 10th, 2005
The incredible untold story of the greatest mind of all time.
Hey, anybody here remember Yahoo Serious? Anyone? Anyone?
The apparently legendary Australian comic Yahoo Serious (a.k.a. Greg Pead) attempted his American infiltration with this film, a hodgepodge of gleefully anachronistic ideas and straight-up weirdness.
Young Albert Einstein (Serious, Reckless Kelly) grew up in Tasmania. Bet you didn't know that. A laid-back guy with wild hair, Einstein passed the time picking apples on his father's farm, fending off vicious Tasmanian devils, and developing complex scientific theories.
His greatest creation, however, is the insertion of bubbles into beer. And a by-product of inventing beer foam is advanced atomic theory. E =mc² is born, and Einstein, at the prompting of his father, heads off to mainland Australia to get a patent on his theorem and make lots of money, and perhaps invent rock and roll and surfing too.
Along the way he meets Marie Curie (Odile Le Clezio), the beautiful and intelligent Nobel Prize winner. The two strike up a friendship, and Marie is instantly intrigued with the young scientist's impressive mental faculties.
However, all of Albert's encounters aren't as pleasant. Preston Preston (John Howard, A Cry in the Dark) is an elitist snob who looks down on the naïve Tasmanian. But when he realizes the potential of Albert's theories, he puts into a motion a plot that will bring him great wealth as well as the affections of Marie, but may just end up nuking the world -- unless Albert Einstein can stop him!
Ah, Young Einstein. Who can forget Yahoo Serious hooking up his guitar to a nuclear reactor and using rock and roll to absorb the atomic energy, while his hair gets zapped? One of the silver screen's most enduring sequences, that.
This movie is a relic. A sporadically funny, profoundly stupid relic, sure, but a relic nonetheless. Young Einstein is not a timeless movie; you want '80s, here you go. Part of the allure for the film back in 1989 was, I think, transplanting the popular elements of that woeful decade into a turn-of-the-century backdrop.
Look at Albert Einstein! He invented surfing!
Check it out, dude! He's playing an electric guitar! In the frickin' 1900s!
Man, that's hilarious! Albert Einstein has a big old punk hairdo!
Then add to that the admittedly cool-but-in-a-nostalgic-retro-way soundtrack, and you've got a flick suitable to be buried in a time capsule, and, if you know what's good for you, never unearthed.
Like I said, there are some authentically funny moments sprinkled here and there, but they're all of the surreal ilk -- you know, scenes that elicit chortles simply because they're wiggedy-wiggedy-wacked, that I only like because I find stupid crap like that funny. I laughed at the crazy little Tasmanian Devil. I thought the sheep being dragged out of the university with someone saying "You fail!" was funny. Oh, and I chuckled a bit when another sheep said "Good night" to Albert.
The rest of the movie is wholly disposable. None of the anachronistic gags work. Einstein's brutally fake guitar playing and his surfing episode seem to be set up as ego-stroking pieces for Serious instead of comedic forays. And I don't mean to pile up on the guy, but Yahoo Serious himself was an anchor to this film. His Albert Einstein is a charmless bore, devoid of charisma, and outperformed by his giant coiffure.
Warner Bros. has a barebones disc in store for you. The matted 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is dull, and littered with flaws throughout. The Dolby 2.0 stereo mix is also unremarkable, though if decoded through Pro Logic II, the surrounds do get a little something to do. The resulting matrix effect is a little uneven, though. Besides the trailer, nothing for extras.
Odd, dated, and occasionally funny, Young Einstein launched the flash-in-a-pan career of Yahoo Serious. He did hit it big in Australia, though keep in mind these are the same folks -- God love them -- who find Vegemite tasty.
The accused is to be fed to a malnourished wallaby. Case closed.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer