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. 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|
|Directed by||Jeff Kanew|
|Edited by||Alan Balsam|
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$60.4 million (including rentals)|
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.
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.
- Robert Carradine as Lewis Skolnick
- Anthony Edwards as Gilbert Lowe
- Ted McGinley as Stanley Harvey "Stan" Gable
- Julie Montgomery as Betty Childs
- Timothy Busfield as Arnold Poindexter
- Andrew Cassese as Harold Wormser
- Curtis Armstrong as Dudley "Booger" Dawson
- Larry B. Scott as Lamar Latrelle
- Brian Tochi as Toshiro Takashi
- Michelle Meyrink as Judy
- Matt Salinger as Danny Burke
- Donald Gibb as Frederick Aloysius "Ogre" Palowaski
- James Cromwell as Mr. Skolnick
- David Wohl as Dean Ulich
- John Goodman as Coach Harris
- Bernie Casey as U.N. Jefferson
- Alice Hirson as Mrs. Lowe
- Lisa Welch as Suzy
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.
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. Kanew cast Matt Salinger as another Alpha Beta brother because he loved his father's book The Catcher in the Rye so much.
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. Two weeks later, the university's administrators revoked permission to film on campus. Dudley B. Woodard, university vice president for student affairs, said the movie would not "portray campus life in a representative way". Allan Beigel, vice president of university relations, said there was nothing that would make them change their minds.
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. Film shooting on campus began in January 1984.
The nerds' original residence, from which they were ousted by the Alpha Betas, was actually Cochise Hall. Their subsequent residence was University of Arizona's Bear Down Gymnasium. The original Alpha Beta fraternity house that is burned down was filmed at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house (on University Boulevard).
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.
|Revenge of the Nerds|
|Soundtrack album by |
March 31, 1998 CD
|Genre||College rock, new wave, synthpop|
|1.||"Manhattan"||Andrea & Hot Mink||3:45|
|2.||"Don't Talk"||Ya Ya||4:02|
|3.||"One Foot in Front of the Other"||Bone Symphony||3:10|
|5.||"Revenge of the Nerds"||The Rubinoos||3:19|
|6.||"They're So Incredible"||Revenge||3:54|
|7.||"Are You Ready?"||Ya Ya||4:02|
|8.||"Are You Ready for the Sex Girls"||Gleaming Spires||4:10|
|9.||"Right Time for Love"||Pat Robinson and Jill Michaels||4:00|
|10.||"All Night Party"||Gleaming Spires||2:31|
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.
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." 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." The Atlanta Constitution said that Lewis' pursuit of a cheerleader "goes beyond being pathetic and becomes masochistic". Newsday called it "another predictable and witless teenage sex comedy".
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."
Box office edit
The film grossed $40 million domestically.
Home media 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".
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.
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. 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". 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". 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".
- Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise (1987)
- Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation (1992)
- Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love (1994)
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. 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.
Filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia at Agnes Scott College, the Georgia State Capitol, and Inman Park. Filming was originally scheduled to take place at Emory University, but university officials changed their minds after reading the script. 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. 20th Century Fox personnel have stated that it is highly unlikely that a remake will be picked up in the future.
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. 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.
See also edit
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