I ♥ Toxic Waste

I stayed in almost all of weekend before last, preferring to camp out in front of the TV instead of brave the first chilly weather of the year. At some point Real Genius came on Starz or some other channel and I half watched it while doing other stuff. Martha Coolidge’s film is easily the best of the three science comedies that came out in 1985 (Weird Science and My Science Project being the other two) and is underrated in general.  It’s not just nostalgia — Real Genius still holds up. For those who doubt Val Kilmer ever had something, watch Real Genius.*

Half watching as I was, reciting dialogue along with the film ("What about that time we found you naked with a bowl of Jell-O?" "I was hot and I was hungry!"), I paid more attention to the sounds more than anything else and came to the realization that nearly a quarter of this movie is in montage form. Particularly, the "science" parts of the film are montaged. Not that it was uncommon in the ’80s — I’m pretty sure Three Men and a Baby is all montage — but I’d just never noticed how much montage was in the movie. And, apart from Tears for Fears’ "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," they’re mostly set to songs that don’t have any relevance outside the soundtrack.

Cut to a few days later and I’m at work and my boss tells me we’re going to do a Blog Fresh segment on Chaz Jankel. I’m like, "Who’s that?" My boss, replies, "He used to be in Ian Dury & the Blockheads but then made some disco records. He had hits." I said never heard of him. The "hits" were played. Again, never heard them. But then came a song I recognized, but I didn’t know from where. I was all "Turn this up. I know this." Then it hit me. It was from Real Genius, one of the many montages. How weird is that? An anthology of Chaz’s best stuff, My Occupation, just came out last week. Too strange not to mention.

Unlike the movie, I’m pretty sure my enjoyment of "Number One" is pure nostalgia, but I do like it.

MP3: Chaz Jankel – Number One

This weird Kismet-ish event had me doing some research on the film and found out there’s a real Real Genius cult out there. My favorite is Found Item Clothing Company that has reproduced all of the t-shirts Val Kilmer wears in the movie, from "I ♥ Toxic Waste" to "Surf Nicaragua." Chris Knight… the original ironic hipster.

*Also check out Top Secret!


  1. "have you ever seen yourself in sort of sun god robes with 1000 naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?"

  2. Dang it, one of the first blog entries I was thinking about doing when I started up again was Chaz Jankel. I figured it was timely with the new anthology plus "Number One" is a favorite of mine. Curses, Pearis, curses! Some of his other stuff is not bad, imo. You should post the link to the original "Number One" video. It's awesome.

  3. Heather, you're going to have to give your all to be Number One. Because number one is the one way to salvation. But you knew that.

  4. I was convinced that the straight man/best friend in Real Genius was Sarah Jessica Parker in drag. Come to think of it, I'm STILL convinced.

  5. I can honestly say that this is one of my Top 5 films of the 80s. I stop everything when this shows up on cable.

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