Albert Einstein (Yahoo Serious) was born in Tasmania where he grew up at the apple orchard of his father (Peewee Wilson), who according to him engendered a respectful love of nature in his son; meanwhile his mother (Su Cruickshank) baked hundreds of apple pies. But Albert always had dreams of bigger things, and one day when he sat down hard on a plank which sent a box of apples crashing onto his head, he formulated a theory that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This was only the beginning, and soon his mind was racing with the possibilities of a career in science - and maybe a new form of music.
You could argue that a film which not only lays claim to Albert Einstein but also the creation of rock 'n' roll, among other inventions, would seem to hail from a country suffering a sense of inferiority since they felt the need to appropriate so much from other nations for their own. Then, if you actually watched Young Einstein, you would see it was all down to a particularly irreverent Australian sense of humour that was really demonstrating their ability to tackle the global stage, because like Crocodile Dundee before it Yahoo Serious' cinematic creation was poised to take the world by storm back in the late eighties.
Well, that was the idea, but it didn't quite work out that way and in spite of a big publicity push in foreign markets it failed to catch on with most non-local audiences, with the major region of the United States almost completely ignoring it. In Britain, it made a few ripples, but the reviews were terrible and the only reason some might recall it at all was down to Mr Serious' wacky name, especially now as he was currently residing in the "Where are they now?" file for the majority (though latterly he did try to take search engine Yahoo to court for supposedly using that name - he failed to win). Nevertheless, if you were not from a land Down Under, it was not solely regional comedy which did not travel on offer here.
Sure, there were plenty of Aussie references - visually, it could not have hailed from anywhere else and is in fact very well photographed - but if you could buy into that sense of humour then what you had may not have been an outright classic, but there were enough laughs and a definite, fertile imagination at work to make Young Einstein worthwhile. The simple act of appropriating these historical figures was audacious enough in itself to keep things interesting, with the love interest being none other than Marie Curie (Odile Le Clezio) who Albert meets on a train while travelling to Sydney to register his patent, which is the formula E=mc² he has used to split the beer atom and therefore create beer with bubbles.
As you can tell from that, anyone looking for a sensible restaging of important events from the past would best seek satisfaction elsewhere, yet a knowledge of what Yahoo was referencing would not go amiss, indeed the more you knew about the real figures the more you would be amused by their treatment here. Plus the genuine theories and discoveries by the greatest minds of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries were somehow incorporated into the screenplay, so in amongst the deeply silly jokes and groan-inducing dialogue Serious did offer a true respect for the genius he was employing for his gags. That the plot spun off into Einstein battling a crooked scientist, Preston Preston (John Howard - not that one), who steals his all-important formula and has no concept of the danger he is meddling with as Albert is trapped in a lunatic asylum with other so-called "Mad Scientists" was more evidence of the zany sensibility on display, but this was a lot more intelligent than its critics seemed to take so much offence at: knowing, but not obnoxiously so.
[This film is available on blinkbox, a service providing hundreds of movies and television episodes without subscription, just a one off payment to either rent or buy your choice. You can watch blinkbox on your SmartTV, Xbox 360, iPad, Blu-rays, Set-top boxes, PC or Mac or TV connected to your PC or Mac. Click here for the details.]