Making the Grades
The idea of putting a real character into a fictitious situation usually doesn't sit right with me. It's like eating chocolate sauce with mashed potatoes -- it looks like ice cream but isn't really what you might expect. I.Q. is a movie that puts the character of Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau) into a story involving his fictitious niece Catherine (Meg Ryan), and her desire to marry a slide rule professor. Einstein has different ideas, and feels she is much more suited to an outgoing mechanic named Ed (Tim Robbins) that she happens to meet after her fiance's car broke down.
Suddenly the mashed potatoes are starting to taste better. I.Q. is a warm and fun movie that has many humorous moments packed into a terrific performance by Matthau and the three other actors that play Einstein's mathematician buddies. All four of the "boys" are soon convinced that they should do anything they can to bring Catherine and Ed together, but the problem is that Catherine wants to marry an academic, not a mechanic. So, the obvious solution is to make Ed into the man Catherine wants. This requires more than genius from Einstein and his friends, as they do their best to make Ed a convincing expert on cold fusion physics.
The use of only a couple of mild sexual innuendos makes I.Q. a rare comedy by today's standards. The rest of the laughs come from creative writing and good performances. There is no violence, except for a slap on Ed's face after Catherine finds out his true identity. Everyone is watching from a distance, including the US President, and what looks like a sexually driven moment of rolling in the grass is actually the result of Catherine wanting to take a round out of Ed.
Overall, I.Q. is as unusual as Einstein: A funny movie with an intelligent script. I think I'll have a second helping of those potatoes now...