John Travolta's should've-been-nominated-for-an-Oscar performance is the best reason to see this largely moving work, which is a little reminiscent of the novel Flowers for Algernon (basis for the film Charly). Travolta plays a mechanic who sees a bright light in the sky one night and wakes up the next morning a genius, hungry for knowledge and so smart he figures out national defense secrets in his own living room (and gets in hot water for it). The more interesting drama, however, is not with the government but with the character's longtime neighbors and friends, who come to reject him for being different. Robert Duvall gives a stirring performance as a doctor who has known the hero all his life, and Kyra Sedgwick is very good as an ambivalent love interest. If you missed this one in the theaters, then you haven't seen one of Travolta's best performances since his comeback. The DVD release presents a widescreen image, optional French soundtrack, optional Spanish subtitles, and theatrical trailer. --Tom Keogh

Production: Disney
  7 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Dr. Niedorf:
All right, I'll start the questions, and I'll be timing your responses, and we'll be recording. Any questions?

What's your first name?

Dr. Niedorf:
Uh, my first name is Bob. [George reaches across the wide table to shake hands]

Shoot, Bob.

Dr. Niedorf:
Right. Name as many mammals as you can in 60 seconds. Ready? Go. [starts stopwatch]

Hmm. 60 seconds. Well, how would you like that? How about alphabetical? Aardvark, baboon, caribou, dolphin, eohippus, fox, gorilla, hyena, ibex, jackal, kangaroo, lion, marmoset, Newfoundland, ocelot, panda, rat, sloth, tiger, unicorn, varmint, whale, yak, zebra. Now "varmint" is a stretch; so is "Newfoundland" (that's a dog breed); "unicorn" is mythical, "eohippus" is prehistoric. But you weren't being very specific. Now were you, Bob?

Dr. Niedorf:
[pauses, then stops watch and laughs] Well! Ahh, I'll, uh — I'll try to be more specific. You ready for the next one?


Dr. Niedorf:
Answer as quickly as you can... how old is a person born in 1928? [starts stopwatch]

Man or a woman?

Dr. Niedorf:
[stops stopwatch and pauses] Why?

Specifics, Bob.

Dr. Niedorf:
Okay, one more time. How old is a MAN born in 1928? [starts stopwatch]

Still alive?

Dr. Niedorf:
[stops watch, pauses, nods] If a man is born in 1928, and he's still alive, how old is he? [starts stopwatch]

What month?

Dr. Niedorf:
[stops stopwatch] If a man was born October 3, 1928, and he's still alive, how old is he? [starts stopwatch]

What time?

Dr. Niedorf:
10:00... PM! [starts stopwatch]


Dr. Niedorf:
[stops stopwatch; now impatient] Anywhere!

Well. Let's get specific, Bob! I mean, if the guy's still alive, born in California, October 3, 1928, 10:00 PM. he 67 years, 9 months, 22 days, 14 hours, and... [takes Bob's hand to see his wristwatch] ...and 12 minutes. If he was born in New York, he's 3 hours older, now isn't he?

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    In which movie does this quote appear: "I'm sure in 1985, plutonium is available at every corner drugstore, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by"?
    • A. Back to the Future
    • B. Pulp Fiction
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    • D. The Big Lebowski