1994, PG, 100 min. Directed by Fred Schepisi. Starring Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, Walter Matthau, Stephen Fry, Lou Jacobi, Gene Saks, Joe Maher.
REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., Jan. 6, 1995
Early in the romantic comedy I.Q., Albert Einstein (Matthau) debates with his colleagues the existence of time, stating firmly that time does not really exist. Unfortunately for the viewer of I.Q., time most definitely does exist… and it drags through the majority of director Fred Schepisi's (Roxanne, Six Degrees of Separation) most recent film. Ryan, Robbins, and Matthau all deliver adequate performances, but Andy Breckman and Michael Leeson's screenplay seems pointless, just short of cute. Ryan plays Catherine Boyd, Einstein's niece and a doctoral candidate in mathematics. Catherine meets Ed Walters (Robbins) when her overbearing fiancé James Morland's (Fry) car breaks down outside the garage where Ed works as an auto mechanic. For Ed, the meeting sparks love. However, he must employ Uncle Albert's help to convince Catherine to ditch her fiance James (a professor of experimental psychiatry nicknamed “The Rat Man” by Einstein and his cohorts) and realize her feelings for Ed. Matthau's Einstein is a physical dead ringer for the late genius, but the actor's take on the professor's German accent makes him sound like Bela Lugosi. Robbins and Ryan are effective as two very attractive geeks, but the story is not strong enough to carry the starry gazes and physical gags. Ryan proves herself adept at physical comedy and ingenuousness (she would make a terrific Sabrina in the upcoming remake of the Audrey Hepburn classic), but some of her mannerisms that were cute and quirky in When Harry Met Sally… here seem forced and overdone. One bright spot is Fry, who plays Catherine's “rat man” with stuffy British aplomb. I.Q. should also receive praise for doing justice to the much-maligned state of New Jersey. Filming in the pastoral college town of Princeton, the director had access to Einstein's old haunts, such as Palmer Hall and his residence on Mercer Street. I.Q. doesn't profess to explore the theory of relativity, but even as a light romantic comedy it fails to engage the viewer completely.