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Theatrical release poster
Directed byFred Schepisi
Screenplay byAndy Breckman
Michael J. Leeson
Story byAndy Breckman
Produced byFred Schepisi
Carol Baum
Neil A. Machlis (co-producer)
CinematographyIan Baker
Edited byJill Bilcock
Music byJerry Goldsmith
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 25, 1994 (1994-12-25)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million
Box office$47 million[1]

I.Q. is a 1994 American romantic comedy film directed by Fred Schepisi and starring Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan, and Walter Matthau. The original music score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. The film, set in the mid-1950s, centers on a mechanic and a Princeton doctoral candidate who fall in love, thanks to the candidate's uncle, Albert Einstein.


Princeton University mathematics doctoral candidate Catherine Boyd and her hyper-critical English fiancé, experimental psychology professor James Moreland, enter a nearby garage after their car breaks down. Ed Walters, a science-fiction hobbyist mechanic, falls in love with Catherine at first sight and is blatantly enthralled by her, which she pointedly ignores.

Inside the garage, Ed excitedly tells his fellow mechanics that he envisions their future together, their marriage and kids. Catherine comes in, and rattled by Ed's attention, jumbles up her words, but he understands her perfectly.

Finding a watch Catherine accidentally left, Ed goes to her address, coming face to face with Albert Einstein, Catherine's uncle.[2] Albert and his mischievous friends, scientists Nathan Liebknecht, Kurt Gödel, and Boris Podolsky, accept Ed as a friend after he answers a philosophical question on time and retrieves one of their badminton rackets from a tree.

Ed tells them that when he and Catherine met, time slowed down and he had a moment of clarity. The scientists see him as someone better suited for her. Ed takes Einstein to the university on his motorcycle to find Catherine. Although unsuccessful in getting a date with her, he makes her laugh.

At a university dinner, James and Catherine discuss their differing views. He describes an academic, and intellectual experience for their honeymoon. In contrast, she describes a sensual one in Hawaii. James pulls her aside, berating her, so she accuses him of not loving her. Then Catherine gets home and tells Albert about James' plan for them: He'll be a full professor at Stanford, while she is resigned to being a homemaker and full-time mother.

The four scientists get Ed's garage to transform their car into a convertible, brainstorming about how Ed can pique Catherine's interest. Ed, who barely got through high school, jokingly asks to "borrow their brains", inspiring them to give him a makeover and portray him as a hidden genius. They take a paper on cold fusion that Albert wrote in 1925, but never published because he couldn't get the math to work out, and pose it as a concept developed by Ed. Catherine finds Ed apparently discussing his idea of a nuclear fusion space shuttle engine with them. She talks him into presenting its paper at a symposium at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study.

Ed stumbles through his memorized presentation and they get away with it. At a reception afterwards, the scientists get Catherine and Ed together alone under the stars. When James arrives, Albert feigns a heart attack, asking Catherine and Ed to drive him home for his pills, then he 'finds them' in his pocket. The three stop at a café to get out of the rain. Catherine senses Ed's feelings for her and tries to leave, but Albert distracts her. Playing a waltz on the jukebox, he then has Ed cut in. They dance briefly but suddenly leave when she remembers James is expecting her.

James challenges Ed in front of the press to do a very public set of intelligence tests. After solving the manual puzzles quickly, Ed is subjected to 50 questions on advanced physics. The four scientists in the audience solve the questions easily and prompt him with the answers in a hilarious exchange. As a result, he's rated with an IQ of 186. The remarkable discovery of unknown genius Ed is published in the newspapers and cinema newsreels, pleasing Catherine. However, going over calculations in "Ed's paper" (actually Albert's), she sees something off and approaches her uncle. Albert causes her to doubt her suspicions to protect the ruse. Catherine becomes distraught, but before she leaves, Ed insists that she's more intelligent than she believes.

Uncle Albert arranges a small sailing excursion with James, Catherine, Ed, and himself, but the scientists detain James so he doesn't show up. Albert, steering the boat, sneakily knocks her off balance so she falls into Ed's lap. Catherine, struggling to come to grips with her feelings, finally says she loves him, and they kiss.

Back at the garage, Ed admits to his co-workers he still hasn't told Catherine the truth. At the same time, she realizes it was all a lie. President Eisenhower arrives, pleased with the supposed nuclear fusion engine which will overtake a rumored similar project of the Russians. On his motorcycle, Ed catches up with the presidential motorcade and meets Catherine in a field. She chews him out, but realizes the president and his staff believe he's proposing. Flustered, she tells him to kiss her. He does so and tells her she'd also fallen in love with him at first sight but they had to devise the ruse to convince her. At that, Catherine openly slaps him and returns to the motorcade.

Realizing she's found out, Albert admits to Catherine that she has finally seen through the "intellectual Ed" ruse. He congratulates her on mathematically disproving his theory of 30 years ago, something he couldn't do as he's terrible at math. This further reinforces Catherine's self-confidence.

At the symposium, James blatantly accuses Albert Einstein and Ed Walters of fraud, but Albert turns the tables on him. He says 'Operation Red Cabbage' was their plan to prove the Russians were lying about nuclear fusion advances in space, and Ms. Catherine Boyd and Mr. Ed Walters were key in it.

Albert is rushed to the hospital for a real emergency, and asks Catherine at his bedside to listen to her heart and not let her head keep her from love. Ed arrives, sincerely apologizes to Catherine, and then leaves telling her he hopes one day she'll realize how extraordinary she is.

A comet is due on the night of 1 April. Catherine goes to Stargazers' Field to view it and discovers Ed already there. They view the comet together and Catherine admits she's fallen for Ed.


Dramatic alterations

For dramatic reasons, I.Q. fictionalizes the lives of certain real people. Albert Einstein did not have a niece by the name of Catherine Boyd. Kurt Gödel was famously shy and reclusive,[3] unlike his fictional counterpart in this film. The movie gives the impression that Einstein and his friends are all around the same age, when in fact, they were between 17 and 30 years younger than Einstein. The real-life Louis Bamberger died in 1944, before the film's set period.

The characters in the film listen to Little Richard's "Tutti-Frutti", which was released in November 1955, while Albert Einstein died in April of that year.

While some viewers believe Robbins' character can be seen impersonating Don Vito Corleone, portrayed by Marlon Brando, from The Godfather, which was released in 1972, he was actually impersonating the character of Johnny Strabler (also played by Marlon Brando), from The Wild One, a 1953 American film noir, whose persona became a cultural icon of the 1950s.


The director, Fred Schepisi, later said that, while he liked the film, it was not what it could have been:

The problem was there were two other producers, there was a studio and there was Tim Robbins and they were all contributing, and Tim Robbins was being difficult because he said in the '90s nobody would like a character who has a woman fall in love with him because of a lie. That's the whole premise of the film. And it's all right for him to know that and believe it, but he should spend the whole time trying to say, "Hey, I'm lying to you," and be constantly frustrated. Because of that attitude, he pulled the film this way, he pulled it that way while we were writing and it just felt messy. And nobody ever understood the value of those four scientists, and I like the cast that I had, but the other three scientists apart from Walter Matthau were originally going to be Peter Ustinov, Barry Humphries and John Cleese. I wanted them all the way through, but nobody understood how strong they would be. Nobody understood that with a garage and the scientists and this other guy, if you could just stay within that world, if you kept your two lovers together all the time under pressure and you do lots of silly things - there were a couple of wonderfully silly things when they were trying to prove his theory and they kept blowing things up - it had that whimsy about it that would have kept the lovers together and under tension. If they want subplots, they up the stakes and all this formulaic crap - and that's the problem.[4]

Release and reception

I.Q. opened in theaters on Christmas Day. It grossed $3,131,201 during its opening weekend, ranking eighth at the US box office.[5] By the time the film closed, it had grossed $26,381,221 in the United States and Canada.[6] It grossed $47 million worldwide.[1]

The film received mixed reviews from critics, as I.Q. holds a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 29 reviews.[7]

In Roger Ebert's 3 1/2 star review of the film he gave glowing praise of Walter Matthau's performance: "Matthau as Einstein is a stroke of casting genius. He looks uncannily like the great mathematician. Whether he acts like him I am not in a position to say, but he certainly doesn't act like himself: He has left all his Matthauisms behind, and created this performance from scratch, and it's one of the year's genuine comic gems. He deserves an Oscar nomination."[8]

Year-end lists

See also


  1. ^ a b "Planet Hollywood". Screen International. August 30, 1996. pp. 14–15.
  2. ^ Caryn James (January 8, 1995). "FILM VIEW; At the Cineplex It's Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  3. ^ Davis, Martin (May 4, 2005). "Gödel's universe". Nature. 435 (7038): 19–20. Bibcode:2005Natur.435...19D. doi:10.1038/435019a.
  4. ^ "Interview with Fred Schepisi", Signis, 22 December 1998 Archived 14 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine access 20 November 2012
  5. ^ "Dumb' Laughs = a Smart Payoff : Box office: Jim Carrey vehicle pulls a 'Gump,' taking in $16.2 million on an otherwise slow film-going weekend". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  6. ^ "I.Q. (1994) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  7. ^ I.Q. (1994), retrieved 2024-02-09
  8. ^ "I.Q. Movie review & film summary (1994) | Roger Ebert".
  9. ^ Elliott, David (December 25, 1994). "On the big screen, color it a satisfying time". The San Diego Union-Tribune (1, 2 ed.). p. E=8.
  10. ^ P. Means, Sean (January 1, 1995). "'Pulp and Circumstance' After the Rise of Quentin Tarantino, Hollywood Would Never Be the Same". The Salt Lake Tribune (Final ed.). p. E1.