Revenge of the Nerds is a 1984 American comedy film directed by Jeff Kanew and starring Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Ted McGinley, and Bernie Casey.[5] The film's plot chronicles a group of nerds at the fictional Adams College trying to stop the ongoing harassment by the jock fraternity, the Alpha Betas, in addition to the latter's sister sorority, Pi Delta Pi.

Revenge of the Nerds
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJeff Kanew
Screenplay by
  • Steve Zacharias
  • Jeff Buhai
Story by
  • Tim Metcalfe
  • Miguel Tejada-Flores
  • Steve Zacharias
  • Jeff Buhai
Produced by
CinematographyKing Baggot
Edited byAlan Balsam
Music byThomas Newman
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 20, 1984 (1984-07-20)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6–8 million[1][2][3]
Box office$60.4 million (including rentals)[4]

Plot edit

Actor Robert Carradine, star of "Revenge of the Nerds"

Best friends and nerds Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe enroll in Adams College to study computer science. The Alpha Betas, a fraternity that includes most of the Adams football team, carelessly burn down their own house and urged by Coach Harris, take over the freshman dorms, literally throwing the freshmen out into the street. Dean Ulich designates temporary living space in the gymnasium and allows the freshmen to rush the fraternities. Lewis, Gilbert, and several other nerds fail to join fraternities but are able to obtain and renovate a dilapidated house near campus.

The Alpha Betas, led by star quarterback Stan Gable, are irked by the nerds' success, and Stan sets his fellow members to harassing the nerds, which includes throwing a rock through the window that says "Nerds, get out". The nerds complain to campus police who are constrained by the Greek Council that adjudicates all such pranks. Stan is currently president of the Council and largely controls its processes. The nerds decide to seek membership in the Greek Council by joining a national fraternity. After 29 rejection letters, the only one to consider them is the black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda (Tri-Lambs), led by U.N. Jefferson. After meeting the nerds, Jefferson is about to refuse their application when Poindexter notices the Trim-Lambs rulebook states that all applicants are given probationary membership. The nerds organize a large party with the Omega Mu sorority, similarly made up of nerdy and overweight women, including Gilbert's girlfriend Judy, and invite Jefferson to attend. The party is dull until Booger provides everyone with high quality marijuana. The Alpha Betas and the Pi Delta Pis, the sorority to which Stan's girlfriend Betty Childs belongs, then disrupt the party by bringing and releasing pigs. The nerds exact revenge on both groups by pulling pranks of their own. Impressed with the nerds' tenacity, Jefferson grants them full membership.

However, the harassment intensifies, and Stan prevents any attempts by the Greek Council to sanction Alpha Beta. The nerds realize the only way to get the Council to help is to put one of their own in as president, which they can do by winning the Greek Games during homecoming. Partnering with the Omega Mus and using their extensive scientific knowledge and creativity, the Tri-Lambs compete strongly with the Alpha Betas and Pi Delta Pis during the athletic events. At the charity fundraiser, the nerds heavily outsell the Alpha Betas by offering pies containing hidden nude pictures of Betty and other Pi Delta Pis. During this, Lewis, who has fallen in love with Betty, steals Stan's costume and tricks Betty into engaging in sexual intercourse with him. Finally, the nerds dominate the musical competition with a techno-computer-driven musical production, winning the overall games. Lewis immediately nominates Gilbert as the new Council president.

Julia Montgomery, who played Betty

Coach Harris lambasts the Alpha Betas for losing to the nerds, and Stan leads them in vandalizing the Tri-Lamb house. The nerds become despondent, and Gilbert decides to barge into the middle of the Homecoming Pep Rally to voice his complaints. The Alpha Betas try to stop him, but Jefferson and a large group of national Tri-Lambs arrive to intimidate the Alpha Betas, offering Gilbert the opportunity to give a rousing speech about standing up to discrimination. Lewis and the other Tri-Lambs, many alumni, and Betty, who announces she is "in love with a nerd", join in cheering Gilbert, soundly shaming the Alpha Betas. An emboldened Dean Ulich instructs Coach Harris that the Tri-Lambs will now live in the Alpha Beta house, while the Alpha Betas will live in the gym until they can repair the Tri-Lamb house.

Cast edit

Script and casting edit

The movie was inspired by a Los Angeles magazine article, titled "Revenge of the Nerds", that described computer programmers gaining respect in Silicon Valley.[6]

Director Jeff Kanew saw Ted McGinley on the cover of a "Men of USC" calendar and decided he was perfect for the role of the head of the Alpha Beta fraternity.[6] Kanew cast Matt Salinger as another Alpha Beta brother because he loved his father's book The Catcher in the Rye so much.[6]

A scene of a Tri-Lambda convention in Las Vegas did not make it into the final movie because a 20th Century Fox executive thought it was making fun of him.[6]

Production edit

The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, was chosen to film many of the exterior scenes. Bill J. Varney, the university's assistant vice president for administrative services, approved filming, particularly after 20th Century Fox agreed to make a large donation to the university.[7] Two weeks later, the university's administrators revoked permission to film on campus.[8] Dudley B. Woodard, university vice president for student affairs, said the movie would not "portray campus life in a representative way".[9] Allan Beigel, vice president of university relations, said there was nothing that would make them change their minds.[7]

After some negotiations, the university decided to allow filming on campus after all as long as the producers tried to schedule film shooting so as to not affect campus activities, not film anything "with a questionable nature with regards to taste", and accept advice from fraternities.[8] Film shooting on campus began in January 1984.[10][11]

The nerds' original residence, from which they were ousted by the Alpha Betas, was actually Cochise Hall.[12][13] Their subsequent residence was University of Arizona's Bear Down Gymnasium.[14][15] The original Alpha Beta fraternity house that is burned down was filmed at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house (on University Boulevard).

Casting for extras, specifically for mean jocks, sorority sisters, and members of a black fraternity, was held at the University of Arizona's Drama Building and at a Tucson Hilton Inn.[8][16]

While working as a security guard during filming, an off-duty police officer found a vial with a small amount of cocaine in a dressing room. The police decided not to pursue an investigation because it would be impossible to determine whose it was.[17]

Interior scenes were shot at Old Tucson Studios.[18]

Different sources report the film's budget as anywhere from $6 million to $8 million, though even $8 million was a low budget for a feature film of the time.[1][2][3]

Soundtrack edit

Revenge of the Nerds
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedSeptember 1984[19]
March 31, 1998 CD
GenreCollege rock, new wave, synthpop
LabelScotti Brothers
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [20]
1."Manhattan"Andrea & Hot Mink3:45
2."Don't Talk"Ya Ya4:02
3."One Foot in Front of the Other"Bone Symphony3:10
4."Breakdown"The Rubinoos3:34
5."Revenge of the Nerds"The Rubinoos3:19
6."They're So Incredible"Revenge3:54
7."Are You Ready?"Ya Ya4:02
8."Are You Ready for the Sex Girls"Gleaming Spires4:10
9."Right Time for Love"Pat Robinson and Jill Michaels4:00
10."All Night Party"Gleaming Spires2:31

Ollie E. Brown, of Ollie & Jerry fame, wrote and performed the song "They're So Incredible" for the film, under the name Revenge. In the film, the song is performed by the Tri-Lambs at the final event of the Greek Games and contains different lyrics.[citation needed]

Three songs appear in the film but do not appear on the soundtrack: "Burning Down the House" by Talking Heads, "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, and "We Are the Champions" by Queen.[21]

Reception edit

Critical response edit

Revenge of the Nerds was panned by many reviewers at release. Lawrence van Gelder for The New York Times wrote, "It is the absence of genuine comedy that exposes glaringly the film's fundamental attitude of condescension and scorn toward blacks and women, and a tendency toward stereotyping that clashes violently with its superficial message of tolerance, compassion and fair play."[22] The Hollywood Reporter said "Revenge of the Nerds is primarily the story of outcasts getting their just rewards, and that is always a satisfying movie ingredient. Nonetheless, this scattergun, often scatological film is filled with extensive racial stereotypes, which may offend some moviegoers."[23] The Atlanta Constitution said that Lewis' pursuit of a cheerleader "goes beyond being pathetic and becomes masochistic".[24] Newsday called it "another predictable and witless teenage sex comedy".[25]

On the other hand, Kevin Thomas of The Los Angeles Times thoroughly enjoyed the movie, calling it "a delicious, gratifying underdog fantasy and a raunchy, uproarious satire set in the often cruel and inherently discriminating world of college fraternities and sororities."[26]

Box office edit

Revenge of the Nerds was released in theaters on July 20, 1984,[22] although some theaters showed the movie a few days early as a preview.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

The film grossed $40 million domestically.[3]

Home media edit

The film was released on DVD on March 6, 2007,[35] and on Blu-ray on May 6, 2014, by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[36]

Legacy edit

Lasting reception edit

The film holds a 71% critics' approval rating film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 43 critics' reviews. Their consensus reads: "Undeniably lowbrow but surprisingly sly, Revenge of the Nerds has enough big laughs to qualify as a minor classic in the slobs-vs.-snobs subgenre".[37]

On Metacritic, it has a score of 44 out of 100, based on reviews from six critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[38]

Revenge of the Nerds is #91 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".[39]

Fraternity edit

Due to the influence of the film, a genuine Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity was founded at the University of Connecticut in 2006, and several chapters have sprung up in different locations around the United States. The "Tri-Lambs" (not an all-black fraternity as portrayed in the film, but open to all races and orientations) currently has six chapters in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Washington state.[40]

Controversy edit

About three decades after the film's release, Gen-Z commentators have looked at the film and considered some of the scenes, particularly when Lewis pretends to be Stan and has a sexual encounter with Betty, to be rape by deception and a misogynistic remnant of a male-dominated culture of that time.[41][42] William Bradley of The Mary Sue stated that after viewing the film again as an adult he "was immediately struck by the way the film plays sexual exploitation and assault for laughs".[43] Amy Benfer of Salon wrote that the Revenge of the Nerds scene, and a similar scene in John Hughes' Sixteen Candles, were evidence that at the time of these films' productions, "people were stupid about date rape".[44] In an interview with GQ in 2019, director Jeff Kanew and writer Steve Zacharias expressed their regret regarding the rape by deception scene, with Kanew saying, "In a way, it's not excusable. If it were my daughter, I probably wouldn't like it".[45][46]

Sequels edit

Three less successful sequels followed; the last two were television films.

Planned remake edit

A remake of the original Revenge of the Nerds was slated for release in 2007, the first project for the newly created Fox Atomic, but was canceled in November 2006 after two weeks of filming.[47] The cast included Adam Brody, Dan Byrd, Katie Cassidy, Kristin Cavallari, Jenna Dewan, Chris Marquette, Ryan Pinkston, Efren Ramirez, and Nick Zano. The film was to be directed by Kyle Newman, executive produced by McG, and written by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, and Adam F. Goldberg.[48]

Filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia at Agnes Scott College, the Georgia State Capitol, and Inman Park.[49] Filming was originally scheduled to take place at Emory University, but university officials changed their minds after reading the script.[3][50] The film was shelved after producers found the movie difficult to shoot on the smaller Agnes Scott campus and studio head Peter Rice was disappointed with the dailies.[47] 20th Century Fox personnel have stated that it is highly unlikely that a remake will be picked up in the future.[50]

Seth MacFarlane announced his intentions to reboot the series under his Fuzzy Door Productions for 20th Century Studios in December 2020 with Kenny and Keith Lucas to write and star in the film.[51]

Television edit

A pilot for a Revenge of the Nerds television series directed by Peter Baldwin was produced in 1991, but was never aired and was not picked up for a series.[52][53] The aborted TV pilot was later included as a bonus in the DVD release of the film.

In the mid-2000s, Armstrong and Carradine had devised an idea for a reality television show based on nerds competing against each other in challenges, inspired by Revenge of the Nerds. However, the idea was rejected at the time, due to the competing Beauty and the Geek show. Six years later, Armstrong and Carradine shopped the idea around and were able to get the show greenlit on TBS in 2012. King of the Nerds ran for three seasons from 2013 to 2015, with Armstrong and Carradine hosting the program.[54]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Aubrey Solomon (January 1, 1988). Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4616-7407-8. Archived from the original on July 8, 2023. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Brown, Peter H (January 20, 1985). "We're Talking Gross, Tacky and Dumb". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Grossberg, Josh (November 22, 2006). "No Revenge for New Nerds". E!. Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 20, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  4. ^ "Field Marshal". Newsweek. Archived from the original on October 23, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
  5. ^ "Revenge of the Nerds". Turner Classic Movies. United States: Turner Broadcasting System. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Gold, Jon (July 20, 2014). "'Revenge of the Nerds' Turns 30 Archived September 3, 2022, at the Wayback Machine". Arizona Daily Star. p. E1, E5.
  7. ^ a b "Of All the Nerd: UofA Officials Refuse to Let 'Raunchy' Movie Be Filmed on Campus". Arizona Republic. December 16, 1983. p. 123. Archived from the original on February 19, 2023. Retrieved February 18, 2023 – via
  8. ^ a b c Svejcara, Bob (January 13, 1984). "'Nerds' Casting Call Draws Likely Candidates Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Arizona Daily Star. p. 21.
  9. ^ "UA Officials to Meet with Producers of 'Nerds' Film to Work Out Dispute Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Tucson Citizen. December 15, 1983. p. 1B.
  10. ^ "Pro Nerds Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Arizona Daily Star. January 31, 1984. p. 15.
  11. ^ Severson, Ed (April 22, 1984). "Library Should Close to Give Sports and Films a Chance Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Arizona Daily Star. p. 2J.
  12. ^ "ResLife: Cochise Hall". University of Arizona. Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  13. ^ Tresaugue, Matt (August 17, 1996). "Next Stop: Tucson Archived September 3, 2022, at the Wayback Machine". Daily Press (Victorville, California). p. D1, D2.
  14. ^ Danehy, Tom (November 21, 2013). "Goodbye to the Gym". Tucson Weekly. Archived from the original on February 19, 2023. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  15. ^ "Revenge of the Nerds". Arizona Daily Star. October 10, 2022. Archived from the original on February 19, 2023. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  16. ^ Anderson, Susan L. (January 16, 1984). "It Took All Kinds for 'Revenge of the Nerds' Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Tucson Citizen. p. 15.
  17. ^ Betta, Leo Della (March 25, 1984). "There's No Good Way to 'Jump' Stories Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Arizona Daily Star. p. C4.
  18. ^ Jennings, John (February 27, 1984). "Tourism's Key Word is 'Flood' — Of Visitors Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Tucson Citizen. p. 4 Tourism.
  19. ^ "Nerds Get Their Revenge Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tenneessee). September 9, 1984. p. Accent 10.
  20. ^ Revenge of the Nerds Original Soundtrack at AllMusic
  21. ^ Davidson, Jim (July 21, 1984). "'Animal House' Ploys Mar Avenging 'Nerds' Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Pittsburg Press. p. B8.
  22. ^ a b van Gelder, Lawrence (July 20, 1984). "Campus 'Nerds'". The New York Times. p. C8. Archived from the original on May 23, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  23. ^ "'Revenge of the Nerds': THR's 1984 Review". The Hollywood Reporter. July 20, 2017. Archived from the original on May 23, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  24. ^ Cain, Scott (July 20, 1984). "'Revenge of the Gag Writers' More Like It Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Atlanta Constitution. p. 9P.
  25. ^ Kaufman, Bill (July 20, 1984). "Review: 'Nerds' Plagued by Teenage Antics Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Newsday (Long Island, New York). p. 6II.
  26. ^ Thomas, Kevin (July 20, 1984). "'Revenge of the Nerds' Skewers Fraternity Row Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Los Angeles Times. p. 6J.
  27. ^ Roysdon, Keith (July 12, 1984). "State Fair Features Tunes for All Tastes Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana). p. 22.
  28. ^ "What's Where? Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Bernardsville News (Bernardsville, New Jersey). July 12, 1984. p. 8.
  29. ^ "Movies Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 13, 1984. p. 9C.
  30. ^ "The Film Guide Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Charlotte News. July 12, 1984. p. 4D.
  31. ^ "Cinemette Theaters Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 18, 1984. p. 34.
  32. ^ "Major Studio Sneak Preview Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Salt Lake Tribune. July 18, 1984. p. 13.
  33. ^ "Major Studio Sneak Preview Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". The Pensacola News (Pensacola, Florida). July 18, 1984. p. 9.
  34. ^ "Major Studio Sneak Preview Archived July 8, 2023, at the Wayback Machine". Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta). July 18, 1984. p. D12.
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  36. ^ Revenge of the Nerds. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (Blu-ray). Century City, Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox. May 6, 2014. ASIN B00IYIB9CI. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
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  38. ^ "Revenge of the Nerds". Metacritic. Archived from the original on November 6, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  39. ^ "Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" on Lists of Bests". June 2, 2006. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  40. ^ Melissa Bishop (January 25, 2007). "Friends Start Fraternity From Scratch". The Daily Campus. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013.
  41. ^ Hefland, Michael (July 1, 2015). "Abusing women was cool in the 80's". Chicago Now. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  42. ^ Morris, Wesley (October 4, 2018). "In '80s Comedies, Boys Had It Made. Girls Were the Joke". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 8, 2023. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  43. ^ Bradley, William (April 3, 2015). "Reconsidering Revenge: How Revenge Of The Nerds' Misogyny Is Evident In Current Nerd Culture". The Mary Sue. Archived from the original on July 8, 2023. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  44. ^ Benfor, Amy (October 9, 2009). "The 'Sixteen Candles' date rape scene?". Salon. Archived from the original on May 16, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
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  47. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole; Alex Romanelli (November 21, 2006). "Atomic blast to 'Nerds'". Variety. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
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  49. ^ Longino, Bob (October 14, 2006). "'Nerds' will hang out in Atlanta". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  50. ^ a b "Naughty 'Nerds' remake is shut down". Chicago Tribune. November 23, 2006. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  51. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 16, 2020). "Seth MacFarlane to Reboot 'Revenge of the Nerds' With the Lucas Brothers". Variety. Archived from the original on December 16, 2020. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  52. ^ Terrace, Vincent (October 9, 2018). Encyclopedia of Unaired Television Pilots, 1945-2018. McFarland. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-4766-3349-7. Archived from the original on July 8, 2023. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  53. ^ Lentz, Harris M III (April 25, 2018). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2017. McFarland. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-4766-7032-4. Archived from the original on July 8, 2023. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  54. ^ Greene, Andy (February 14, 2013). "Curtis 'Booger' Armstrong on His New Reality Show, 'King of the Nerds'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 10, 2015.

External links edit