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If I Had Known I Was A Genius

About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

Michael, a precocious African American boy, struggles to fit in both at home and at school, especially after the school determines that he possesses a genius IQ. His dysfunctional family is no help, refusing to encourage their gifted son. In fact, they work tirelessly to undercut his sense of self-worth; even his mother straight-out nicknames him Ugly. But when Michael enrolls in a high school drama class and finds encouragement from a wacky teacher, life finally starts looking up. Can Michael's genius abilities liberate him from the crash course to failure that society and his family have set him on?

Dominique Wirtschafter's quirky, energetic comedy offers a fresh and intelligent perspective on social malfunction and black masculinity. Whoopi Goldberg turns in a brilliant, understated performance as Michael's myopic-minded mother, while Markus Redmond delivers a marvelously ironic performance as Michael in all stages of his life. If I Had Known I Was a Genius is a unique and accomplished first-time feature from Wirtschafter and establishes her as a director to watch.

 Written by Shari Frilot by the Sundance Film Festival archives

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
Los Angeles, CA
Other Interesting Production Info: 
Andrea Sperling Productions also produced such films as "D.E.B.S." and "Like Crazy"
Categories About the Film
coming of age
coming of age
interracial relations
urban life
Racial/Ethnic Affiliation: 
African American
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Markus Redmond
Andrea Sperling, Daniel Sadek, Dominique Wirtschafter
Scott Kevan
Primary Cast: 
Markus Redmond, Whoopi Goldberg, Sharon Stone, Tara Reid, Keith David, Debra Wilson
Exhibition/Distribution Info
Gibraltar Entertainment
Box Office Earnings: 
Where to find it/How to get it: 
Streaming (Netflix or other online sites)

World premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2007

Personal Film Review and Cultural Context: 

This semi-autobiographical comedy is about a young man growing up with an overly critical mother and the quick rise and fall of his acting career in Hollywood. Markus Redmond, who penned the script, portrays Michael from ages 6-25 and often breaks the fourth wall to explain the scenes to the audience. Not only does this result in funny and heart-breaking moments, but we get to experience, first-hand, the injustices with which he is faced. Instead of watching Michael explore the issue of racial stereotypes in television and film, it is as if we are the ones not getting the job because we are not “black enough” to play the “gangsta,” which is the only role Michael was allowed to audition for. With a combination of close ups and wide shots, director Dominique Wirtschafter enables the audience to both be Michael and is greatest confidant. Michael’s genuine heart and sharp observations of his life carry us through this charming film. Written by Delia Bloom