Quantum Geek: Revenge of the Nerds (July 1984)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the shower...

Nerds, Geeks, Fanboys, unite and no force on Earth would be able to stop us!

Revenge of the Nerds 1984 college campus comedy retro movie review

Jumping straight into Throwback Thursday's retro special, today's movie needs no introduction for some. If you've seen every college campus comedy ever made, you've seen this and you probably stand by me in rating it highly on the laughter scale.

Revenge of the Nerds is a comedy unlike any other belonging to the same subgenre. It isn't Animal House because it isn't about the deliberately antisocial crowd, it isn't Porky's because it doesn't focus on getting laid, and it isn't Old School because... well it just isn't, okay? Revenge of the Nerds is different because it is a hilarious parody of nerds, how people stereotype them and how they fare (and fail) in day to day life. But it's not purely self-effacing, either. It has a heart and a message that goes out to nerds everywhere, and their oppressors, not that you'll take it too seriously!

Robert Carradine (The Big Red One) and Anthony Edwards (Top Gun's Goose) star as Lewis and Gilbert, two of nerds embarking on their freshman year at Adams College. They're not very well received, especially by the college's Alpha Beta jock fraternity. When the jocks accidentally burn down their own house and take the nerds' house for their own, Lewis and Gilbert are forced to bunk in the gym with all the other freshmen that can't find their own place to stay.

Anyway, this movie sports just about every kind of nerdy outcast imaginable, all with their own uniquely ridiculous name. My own hands down favourite are Booger and Takashi; Booger (Curtis Armstrong from such classics as Moonlighting and Jingle All The Way) who takes Takashi (Brian Tochi, Police Academy's very own Nogata and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles's original Leonardo voice actor) under his wing and teaches him the importance of hair pie, is by far one of the most relatable characters to me, and I still wonder to this very day if that's a bad thing.

Revenge of the Nerds cast; Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Curtis Armstrong, Timothy Busfield, Brian Tochi
Then you have Timothy Busfield (Field of Dreams) as the suited ginger coke bottle-wearing violinist Poindexter, Larry B. Scott (Iron Eagle) as the absurdly camp black athlete Lamar Latrell and the unfortunately forgotten Andrew Cassese as Wormser, the underage computer genius. Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys and Milton from Office Space owe Busfield some long-awaited gratitude.

Things go from funny to hilarious quite often, most often under the silliest of circumstances, such as when the desperate and homeless nerd community approach U.N. Jefferson ('70s Blaxploitation icon Bernie Casey) the head of the all-black Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity for a fraternity to belong to. They have to prove that they're Tr-Lam material and so the movie's plot is pretty much set in stone. The Alpha jocks are threatened by the nerds taking up permanent residence and so start doing all they can to piss on their parade.

Bernie Casey UN Jefferson Lambda head revenge of the nerds

This is made worse by the fact that Lewis has a crush on football team captain Stan Gable's trophy girlfriend, and by the fact that the football coach (John Goodman) likes to psyche up his team by having them do more than just haze the nerds. He wants a team of killers and he wants those nerds destroyed as a gesture of loyalty, but it's all done so well with that patriotic dumbass comedy that 'Muricah does so well. They say Americans can't make fun of themselves. This movie sets the record straight on who exactly is to blame for that, but in the most tasteless ways possible.

Revenge of the Nerds is such a good retro comedy as well because it sports those '80s montages like strippers sport nipple tassles (gratuitously). It also puts those socially awkward but lovable outcasts in every wacky situation possible (where they thrive best), leading to so many laugh out loud moments. The mission impossible parody nods clearly at Animal House but takes it so much further.

Revenge of the Nerds Mission Impossible sorority invasion shower scene
Aside from the howling laughter brought on by the most blatant of social typecasts and the fact that some of our favourite actors may have put a little too much method into their acting, Revenge of the Nerds is also surprisingly touching. Balls to your spoiler alerts, you've had 30 years to see this. The most epic out-of-the-nerd-closet speech of all time will not wait any longer...

What did Revenge of the Nerds do for the future of all Geek-kind? I guess it's pretty obvious that it made people like us a little more socially accepted. The movie had three sequels, and whereas they became less funny every time, the final made for TV instalment solidified our heroes as sentimental memories. They were after all one of few heroes in cinema that sympathetically adopted past enemies into their ranks, which is pretty fucking sweet, especially in this pessimistic time.
Enjoy Revenge of the Nerds with a classic comedy night, allow me to recommend Summer School and The Breakfast Club. The Quantum Geek leaps to July of 1994 next week to review two comic adaptations. One of them is up for an arse kicking. Enjoy the summer heatwave, nerds!

Oh go on, one more clip...

-Dan Ashley
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