Walter Matthau is Albert Einstein. That’s the conceit that differentiates I.Q. from countless other romantic comedies relying on the same standard formulas of mismatched lovers, meddlesome matchmakers, supposedly perfect but obviously inappropriate fiancés, and so on.
Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins are cast somewhat against type: Ryan often plays bubbleheaded and Robbins brainy, but here Ryan is a science whiz, if a bubbly one, while Robbins is a grease monkey, if a thoughtful one. The real twist, though, is that Catherine (Ryan) happens to be the niece of Albert Einstein — and, while she has a brainy fiancé, he’s a twit, and her uncle Albert decides that she really needs someone like Ed.
This sort of thing has been done to death, but there’s something endearingly goofy about throwing Einstein, of all people, into the mix that breathes new life into the formula. Aiding and abetting are a grey-haired coterie of Einstein’s real-life scientific peers, Kurt G‶del, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Liebknecht, who mug about like the four widowers in (the superior) Return to Me.
The pseudo-scientific milieu, with much banter about the nonexistence of time, offers a new angle on the sense of inevitability and formula that invariably attends this sort of film. Despite its title, I.Q. isn’t the smartest romantic comedy ever made, but it won’t insult your intelligence either.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.