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Case Number 14657: Small Claims Court

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The Genius Club

Cloud Ten Pictures // 2006 // 120 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 3rd, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson got kicked out of the Genius Club for bringing a Whoopee cushion to one of the meetings.

The Charge

They have one night to solve the world's problems.

The Case

Five geniuses with IQs over 200 are snatched without warning by the Department of Homeland Security and dropped into a dark room and told they have 36 hours to solve the world's problems.

Turns out a madman named Armand (Tom Sizemore) has planted a nuke in the heart of Washington D.C. And has threatened to detonate and blow half a million people to kingdom come. This self-described revolutionary has challenged these geniuses to engage in a vigorous debate over such issues like war and poverty and oil and…sorry, I drifted off for a second there.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so there's this excruciating banter and it goes on for two hours. Other recognizable faces include Stephen Baldwin and Tricia Helfer.

Let's start right off and reveal that The Genius Club is indeed a "religious" film, in that is a Christian-produced work geared towards some lightweight evangelism and even lighter-weight apologetics. No problem. I'm a believer and I welcome Christian artists to do their thing as they feel called or compelled. However, I can't let someone off the hook, despite the shared worldview. For as well-intentioned its message is, The Genius Club is a terrible movie.

Sorry, but that's the truth, regardless of what you may regard as Truth is espoused within its unending 120-minute runtime. For those two hours, you'll be essentially watching a bunch of people sitting in a room talking and talking and talking, while a faux-crisis bubbles outside somewhere (depicted occasionally by an FBI Agent shouting into his walkie-talkie in a fevered pitch). Tom Sizemore's character throws out the kinds of populist questions that generate legendary flame wars on Internet discussion boards ("Is war meaningless? Should we get rid of capitalism? Why are the oil companies so huge and evil?") and the "geniuses" go back and forth in a debate that seems less intellectually imposing and more Poli-Sci 101.

All of this dialogue is given a shot of wannabe tension through the ticking countdown gimmick—our heroes have to earn 1,000 points before time runs out or the nuke goes off. Trouble is, Armand awards these points arbitrarily so without a rule-set to follow, it's hard to maintain suspense. It really doesn't seem like they so-called geniuses solved anything. That's a lot of time to burn through with very little getting accomplished.

What really hamstrings the affair is the acting. The banal dialogue is butchered mercilessly by the ensemble, though there is no worse offender than Sizemore, who puts his back into chewing through lines. It was after about the twentieth time that he screamed a line at the top of his lungs that I was ready to move onto something more constructive, like burning ants with a cigarette lighter.

At about the halfway mark we get some Christianity smuggled in as the conversation topics turn towards entry-level apologetics, like "If God exists why is there so much evil in the world?" and "Show me evidence of a Creator!" The answers given represent a good starting-off point for the curious Believer, but, frankly, I don't see anyone converting because of The Genius Club, mainly because the movie is so tedious and poorly constructed viewers will have long ago turned off the TV and returned to their life of wanton debauchery.

I take no pleasure in lambasting the film because there is indeed a dearth of quality Christian-themed entertainment and writer/director Timothy Chey has his heart in the right place (and offers a nice, honest commentary), but this just isn't going to cut it.

The DVD is a technical disappointment with a grainy, flat 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a 2.0 stereo mix that is shallow and tinny. Extras: Chey's commentary, a behind-the-scenes feature with cast interviews, deleted scenes and trailers.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Cloud Ten Pictures
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital Master Audio (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Genres:
• Bad
• Drama
• Religious and Spiritual
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Deleted Scenes

Accomplices

• IMDb








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