Who wouldn't want to be in his tennis shoes? After Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell) accidentally crosses wires with the computer recently donated to his collage, he undergoes a mind-altering experience. Instead of his natural less-than-average intelligence, the student suddenly has extraordinary mental prowess. One look at a book and he can do complicated math problems, speak foreign languages, or recite historical facts.
As news of his mishap and its incredible side effects are publicized, Dexter enjoys the attention and acclaim of everyone from the media to United Nations officials. But some of the brainy boy's new found friends seem to have ulterior motives. Dean Higgins (Joe Flynn), who once wanted him expelled, is now begging the genius to sign up for the spring semester so he can represent their institution at an academic challenge -- the prize money would go to the financially ailing school. Big businessman A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero) also wants the data-cruncher to work for his organization, where his gift for analyzing information can insure any money invested at the horse track will be a sure bet.
Dazzled by the flattery, Dexter becomes more and more self-absorbed, until a programming glitch causes him to regurgitate secret information hidden in the absorbed memory banks. Afraid he might bleep out further incriminating evidence, the guilty party decides it's time to pull the plug on the walking computer. Now only his real friends can save the day.
Typical of many of Walt Disney's productions, this 1969 film features a familiar ensemble of cast members, stereotypes, and zany antics like car chases, paint fights and down-to-the-wire competitions. While gambling, crooks and gun-welding bad guys abound, the comedy keeps the action more slapstick than scary (although parents will want to remind young children of the true dangers of electrical shock).
Today's generation will likely find plenty of chuckles just looking at the size and style of the computer, as well as the prevailing belief in the superiority and infallibility of such machines. In a world where booting up is an everyday activity, it might be groovy to take your family back to a time when The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
Dexter becomes increasingly discouraged as he sees the selfish motivations behind the suggested applications for his talent. Do you ever seek friends because you feel you will personally benefit from the relationship? What are the characteristics of true friendship?