It’s been five years but the Tri-Lambs make their triumphant return along with a certain antagonist returning in this TV-movie that has its ups and downs.
Harold Skolnick is the nephew of Lambda Lambda Lambda legend Lewis Skolnick. Along with best friend Ira, they are headed to Lewis’ alma mater of Adams College. They’re not the only ones coming to Adams as alumnus Orrin Price, who is on the college board, is bringing his son Adam. Orrin is completely shocked to learn that Adams has changed from the top party school with top athletes to a nerd-friendly campus. Meanwhile, Lewis is in charge of the computer science department and has changed his image. Married to longtime love Betty, who teaches art, Lewis has renounced what he once was.
As Harold and Lewis, along with a group of new pledges including Scotsman Trevor and female member Judy along with president Malcolm and senior Toyota, they become the newest members of the Tri-Lambs, but a big problem comes. Former Alpha Beta leader Stan Gable, thanks to Orrin, has become the new Dean of Students at Adams and the Tri-Lambs once again get bullied. Despite help from Lewis’ old friend Booger, it’s too much and when Lewis discovers what’s going on, he has no choice but to revert back to his ultimate nerd form and plan some new “revenge” for his alma mater.
Well, this was a bit of a surprise. Five years after their last adventure, Adams College’s chapter of Lambda Lambda Lambda have returned. However, this one is not a theatrical release, but a made for TV sequel, which can spell trouble. However, for the most part, this third installment is actually not bad as it lives up to its name “The Next Generation”, where we have an introduction to new “nerds” along with a few veterans including the ultimate one himself, Lewis Skolnick.
The reason why for the most part this is good is because two of the original creators, Steve Zacaharias and Jeff Buhai, return to write the screenplay. We see it’s a new decade and things can change. In this case, we see Lewis not as the lovable nerd but as a ponytail-sporting, contact-wearing computer science head who seems to have been ashamed to have been a nerd, thinking he outgrew it. Of course, he soon does revert back after a budding friendship with his former arch nemesis is threatened due to the influence of an even bigger Alpha Beta.
While Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong, and Julia Montgomery make their welcome returns, the big surprise is Ted McGinley’s return as Stan Gable. But it is like Stan, the one time big man on campus and leader, is now a puppet with the puppet master being Morton Downey Jr.’s Orrin Price. Price, shocked at the school’s transformation, goes to great lengths, including run-ins with the law, to ensure Adams is returned to its former state. The new nerds, including Gregg Binkley and Richard Israel as the central characters Harold and Ira, who are this film’s Lewis and Gilbert.
And speaking of that, the final scene, a reunion of some of the original Tri-Lambs that involves a shocking twist, would have been much better had there been two certain returning cast members. First, there’s Wormser, who now comes in the form of Sean Whalen. It just doesn’t feel right without Andrew Cassese but that’s not the biggest offense in the film. It’s when we see Gilbert but shockingly it’s not Anthony Edwards, but instead replaced by Mike Greenwood, sporting a blonde mullet with an attempt to sound like Edwards. That’s the biggest miss and head-shaking moment of the film.
Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation starts out as a tamer rehash of the original minus the obvious. While it starts out promising and has some pretty good twists, one can’t help but that extreme miscast in the final scene. Still shaking my head just thinking about it.
WFG RATING: B-
A 20th Century Fox Television production. Director: Roland Mesa. Producers: Robert Engelman and Steve Zacharias. Writers: Steve Zacharias and Jeff Buhai; based on the characters created by Zacharias, Buhai, Tim Metcalfe, and Miguel Tejada-Flores. Cinematography: Zoran Hochstätter. Editing: Seth Gaven.
Cast: Robert Carradine, Ted McGinley, Curtis Armstrong, Julia Montgomery, Gregg Binkley, Richard Israel, John Pinette, Grant Heslov, Henry Cho, Mark Claymore, Tim Conlon, Chi McBride, Lauren Moglen, K.T. Vogt, Morton Downey Jr.