Emmett is a popular junior at Heart High School. He also happens to be a highly imaginative 12-year-old child prodigy. After his brother Luke, also a junior and Emmett’s best friend, is accused of being involved in a rash of thefts at the school, Emmett must find a way to prove his innocence before their mom ships Luke off to boarding school. Emmett enlists the help of his 60-something SAT tutor and crime novelist, Mary, to help him find the real culprit. Together, with the assistance of his oddball friends and a benevolent science teacher, Emmett and Mary prove Luke’s innocence and discover the real criminal may be someone from Mary’s past.
Within the first few minutes of Boy Genius we see our star (and child prodigy) Emmett win a debate contest, traipse through the high school halls feeling confident, exchange mutual admiration with his cool big brother and connect with his besties. We definitely get the bully-like upperclassman who’s cloaking his jealousy in meanness, and we also see Emmett’s innocent admiration for a particularly beautiful young co-ed.
So, we settle in nicely for a sweet and easy kid-oriented high school story without high expectations. But we quickly start to hear poignant and clever dialogue as we watch complex characters and interesting situations develop. This is a fresh, wonderful, family-oriented movie with the right amount of goofy, and scene-after-scene of engaging storytelling. Under the easygoing storyline are themes of responsibility and family, intelligence vs. maturity, and integrity vs. deceit.
Rita Wilson plays the pivotal character of Mary Lock, the tutor/crime-novelist who leans in to help Emmett solve the school thievery problem. Ms. Wilson offers us the knowing, creative and quirky character that brings both humility and wisdom, and the grown-up we hope our own kids encounter in their high school life.
Boy Genius is the rare movie we love to celebrate. It’s written by Vicki Wight and directed by Bridget Stokes with deliberate kindness and true understanding to the role of entertainment in our families’ lives. Writing this kind of movie is difficult; no reliance on cheap jokes or sophomoric language, but rather deep relationships that draw us into the story and leave us better when it ends. Boy Genius is fun, while brilliantly giving us wonderful topics to ponder about sacrificial love and being true to oneself.