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Revenge of the Nerds
1984 - R - 90 Mins.
Director: Jeff Kanew
Producer: Ted Field, Peter Samuelson
Written By: Jeff Buhai , Tim Metcalfe
Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Timothy Busfield, Andrew Cassese, Curtis Armstrong, John Goodman, James Cromwell
Review by: John Ulmer
   
“Nerds” follows the misadventures of a group of college freshmen who have never sampled the real life before. There’s Gilbert (Anthony Edwards) and Lewis (Robert Carradine), our heroes, and their new friends: Poindexter (Timothy Busfield), Wormser (Andrew Cassese), a flamboyant homosexual named Lamar (Larry B. Scott) and the unhygienic Booger (Curtis Armstrong, from “Risky Business”).

Once they arrive at their new fraternity, the nerds find themselves at the hands of the torturous jocks that make their lives a living hell. The twist here is that the nerds finally take a stand and decide to fight back against their oppressors.

In order to exact careful revenge on the jocks, the nerds use their intellectual superiority to an advantage, and calculate a series of grueling schemes that will embarrass, shame and expose their enemies – which includes the busty blonde cheerleaders (resulting in one of the all-time best R-rated comedy scenes ever).

“Revenge of the Nerds” is a familiar picture – those who have seen “Animal House” will immediately recognize the clear parallels drawn between John Belushi’s Bluto character and the disgusting Booger. Apart from the fact that both their names begin with the letter “B,” they are also overweight, scruffy and lazy, rarely speak, drink excessively, and are responsible for the most laughs. Armstrong said years later that not a day has gone by in his life when someone has not passed him on the street and called him Booger; despite its flaws, the film seems to maintain a cult audience.

However for all its "Animal House" stylings, "Nerds" has its own strengths -- and weaknesses.

One of the more prominent traits of “Revenge of the Nerds” is that it actually treats its characters with a great deal of affinity; many sex comedies of the era just had the standard T&A and embarrassing physical jokes whereas “Nerds” really does spend some time building up its characters. I felt more attached to the nerds in this movie than I did to the cadets in “Police Academy,” for example.

Which isn’t to say this movie doesn’t have its fair share of nudity and shameless sex gags – it does. (In fact, the University of Arizona backed out of filming agreements at one point after realizing how raunchy the script was.) At the time, before “American Pie” pushed the boundaries even further with its sperm beer and baked goods, this was considered pretty distasteful.

Nevertheless, with a mere $8,000,000 budget, “Revenge of the Nerds” became a surprise smash hit and grossed over $40,000,000, with an additional $20,000,000 in rentals. Nowadays, that’s nothing; in 1984, it was a lot.

Although it is by no means a “classic” in any sense of the word, “Revenge of the Nerds” does manage to entertain and is just silly and amiable enough that you won’t feel offended, disgusted or appalled by its content. The characters are surprisingly likable and that’s vital to any movie like this.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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