Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

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The quintessential 80’s college comedy focuses on a group of intellects who use their strongest weapons against the big men on campus: their minds.

Lewis and Gilbert are best friends who have been accepted to Adams College, which has one of the top computer departments in the nation. However, from the beginning, these two soon learn that college life is not what it seems. As they head towards their dorms, they are called ‘Nerds’ by the Alpha Beta fraternity, who just happen to be the top-ranking college football team as well. When a incident caused by stupidity causes the Alpha Betas to lose their house, they take over the freshman dorm with the help of their domineering coach. The freshmen are forced to live in the gym.

When Lewis eventually finds a house, he rallies up Gilbert as well as the effeminate Lamar, child prodigy Wormser, Japanese student Takashi, human pharmacy Poindexter, and a few others. When the Alpha Betas pull a prank on the nerds because of their new house, the boys attempt at joining the Greek Council, but they need a national charter and to make matters worse, Alpha Beta head Stan Gable is the president of the Council. They eventually get temporary membership in a normally all-black fraternity, Lambda Lambda Lambda. When the Alpha Betas and Pi Delta Pis pull a very malicious prank at their party, the nerds decide to get revenge their way. They get accepted permanently into Lambda Lambda Lambda and with the Annual Greek Games coming, will the new Tri-Lambs be able to use their minds to overcome the Alphas’ superior physicality?

The 70’s quintessential college set comedy was definitely Animal House. Six years later, we are given the 80’s college comedy, which stands out as a true classic comedy. Screenwriters Steve Zacharias and Jeff Buhai crafted a story where it’s not always about how strong you are, but how smart you are and how you can use your smarts instead of strength and power.

Quite frankly, there has never been a cast better than in this film. Robert Carradine personifies Lewis Skolnick with perhaps the most memorable laugh in modern cinematic history. Anthony Edwards seems to have that leadership quality as Lewis’ best friend and obvious kindred spirit. Timothy Busfield’s Poindexter is a mind all of his own with his look, all of his medicines, and his laugh almost rivals that of Skolnick’s in the Tri-Lamb party scene. Andrew Cassese doesn’t offer much to the film with the exception of being the runt of the bunch. Yet, he serves as a foil for perhaps Lamar, who serves as a mentor of sorts with the youngster repaying him in a pivotal moment in the Greek Games.

Curtis Armstrong is the perfectly named “Booger” who is the filthiest of the bunch, both with his nose-picking and belching mannerisms and has the mind of a future Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. Brian Tochi’s Takashi is funny as Booger’s protege, who learns how “not” to play poker and always looking for a certain type of “pie”.

The Alpha Betas are wonderfully cast too. Ted McGinley is the leader of the group while Matt Salinger, the son of famous author J.D Salinger and played the Marvel superhero in Albert Pyun’s Captain America in 1990, is a second in command. However, if someone really breaks out in the film as one of the most memorable characters, it’s Donald Gibb as “Ogre”. He’s the one who starts the film in using the word “nerd” in the film. And he plays the tough guy of the bunch who does show a not-so-tough guy mode in one scene. John Goodman is truly the domineering coach who is pretty much like the Alpha Betas, a bully when it comes to the school’s dean while Bernie Casey brings a sense of power to the screens when he appears as Tri-Lambda founder U.N. Jefferson.

Revenge of the Nerds is the best 80’s college comedy of all time with its perfect casting and exciting tale of nerds who attempt to put an end to bullying, or as they call it here, “nerd prosecution”. Perhaps, today’s generation can learn a thing or two from this film…and we’re not talking panty raids and liquid heat either.

WFG RATING: A

20th Century Fox presents and Interscope Communcations Production. Director: Jeff Kanew. Producers: Ted Field and Peter Samuelson. Writers: Steve Zacharias, Jeff Buhai, Tim Metcalfe,
and Miguel Tejada-Flores. Cinematography: King Baggot. Editing: Alan Balsam.

Cast: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Timothy Busfield, Andrew Cassese, Curtis Armstrong, Larry B. Scott, Brian Tochi, Julia Montgomery, Michelle Meyrink, Ted McGinley, Matt Salinger, Donald Gibb, James Cromwell, David Wohl, John Goodman, Bernie Casey.

 

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