Catherine Boyd (Meg Ryan) is an intelligent, educated woman who wants nothing more than for her intelligent, educated boyfriend James Moreland (Stephen Fry) to finally marry and start a family with her.
When Catherine and James run into car trouble one day, they’re assisted by an auto mechanic named Edward Walters (Tim Robbins), who falls in love with Catherine at first sight.
Unfortunately for poor Edward, Catherine is completely unwilling to look his way. Only the men of highest intelligence and status can get her attention, because she wants to be sure she’ll have super-smart babies.
But Ed has one thing working in his favor: Catherine’s uncle likes him and is willing to scheme with him to make Catherine change her tune. And that uncle is none other than Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau).
I.Q. is a period romance set in the 1950s, in the months before Albert Einstein’s death. Don’t let Einstein’s impending “long journey” fool you, though: this film is pure comedy, focusing on a lively portrayl of Einstein and his pals rather than focusing on his demise.
Fred Schepisi (Roxanne) directs a screenplay by Andy Breckman (Rat Race) and Michael Leeson (The War of the Roses), based on a story by Breckman.
There’s a lot to love about I.Q., and the first thing that comes to mind as a stand-out element of the film is its cast. Tim Robbins and Walter Matthau could not have been more perfectly cast than they were in this film.
I’m 99.9% sure Tim Robbins was created solely to appear in period films, because they’re always my favorites from his filmography. He makes a highly believable mid-20th century man. (Another favorite of his films is The Hudsucker Proxy, which takes place in the late ’50s.)
As for Matthau, he’s so completely lovable as Einstein. The character is written in a very fun way and Matthau brings him to life in such a way that you can’t help but want to hang out with him. He brings a mischievous and witty brand of energy to the character, which is a whole lot of fun to watch.
The Meg Ryan/Tim Robbins romance is sweet enough to work for the film, but the friendship that grows between Ed and Einstein is even nicer to watch. The whole cast has really great chemistry, which definitely increases the charm factor in both the platonic and romantic relationships (save that of Catherine and her stuffy beau James, of course).
Visually, I.Q. doesn’t look completely authentic to the period. Meg Ryan often looks like she would in any ’90s film, but with slightly more tailored clothes. There are some anachronisms as well, but the film has such a wonderful charm to it and such great lead performances that most of these errors are forgivable.
Though not a spot-on portrayal of the 1950s or of Albert Einstein himself, I.Q. is such a light and fun watch that it can be enjoyed regardless of its lapses in accuracy. It’s a unique, slightly quirky romantic comedy that delivers in both laughs and “aww” moments. The score: 4/5