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By Zack Haddad | January 29, 2007

2007 SUNDANCE SPECTRUM FEATURE! Having talent is wasted if it is never used. This is evident in the film “If I Had Known I Was a Genius,” the story of one man re-telling his life after living his childhood, which is when many people noticed that he had more than standard potential. Unfortunantely for the filmmakers, wasted talent is also evident when talking about this film because it is fairly executed but comes up just short of what it could be.

Michael (Markus Redmond) was misunderstood by everyone in his family his entire life. He is told at a young age that he is a child prodigy and is sent to a school for the gifted. When his family decides to move to California from Philadelphia, Michael is forced to integrate into a normal high school where he is practically forced by his family and his crazy drama teacher (Sharon Stone) to think about pursuing acting. Michael becomes forced to choose whether to fulfill his potential as a lawyer or become an actor.

This is the first film directed by Dominic Wirtschafter and instead of a standard narrative; he takes a refreshing new approach. He has Michael at age 26 tell his entire story (via breaking the third wall) from age 10 to present. It is kind of interesting to see a grown man portraying himself in the past at age 10. It is different because usually when talking about a character’s past, filmmakers just hire a young actor to play that person. The route that “Genius” takes is new and inventive. but the film also tries way too hard at being cute and imaginative, resulting in a story that gets tedious by the end.

Markus Redmond is a captivating actor that makes the film fun and he actually comes off as someone who could be very genius bright, not just playing such in a film. Whoopi Goldberg and Keith David play his parents, and both of those actors have had amazing careers and it is great to see them performing to their peaks in such an indie film. If Whoopi surpasses David, it’s mostly because she is this very mean mother and it is a role you have never seen her in and you just love to hate her throughout. Sharon Stone gives what I think is a great performance as what can only be explained as an overacting drama teacher who lives in permanent dreamland. The wide array of co-stars makes for a very fun film.

This film has potential. Much like Michael in the film, this film could be a great success, but all told who knows? I enjoyed this film and I think so many others will enjoy if they have ever reminisced about the days past and the lost potential of their lives.

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