Monday, August 22, 2011

Revenge of the Nerds - 1984

"Revenge of the Nerds" - 1984
Dir. by Jeff Kanew - 1 hr. 30 min.

Official Trailer

Comedies rarely age well, but "Revenge of the Nerds" fares better than a lot do.  A small reason for that is that it felt like half the cast went on to have decent careers (everyone from Anthony Edwards, to John Goodman, even people with small roles like James Cromwell).  But the biggest reason is that this is a pretty tight movie - mostly killer, very little filler.

Lewis and Gilbert are off to college (played by Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards, respectively), where they fully expect to engage in the sort of behavior that they've been led to believe college is all about.  The catch?  They're nerds, although they don't really seem to realize that.  This point is made at their expense, as the college football team burns down their house, and forcibly take over one of the dorms.  The batch of misfits, including Lewis and Gilbert, are left to bunk at the gym until they can find accommodations on their own (which sounds absurd, except that the same thing happened when I was in college in the dorms.  The school deliberately oversold dorm accommodations, and whoever didn't get a room had to live communally in the common area until enough people got fed up and found apartments on their own).  They do eventually find a house and apply for membership with a fraternity, and are thoroughly despised by the more traditional Greek houses.

From there, it's a battle to be taken seriously (and not have their house trashed by the football team on a whim).  After smaller acts of revenge (such as a panty raid, natch), they compete in a sort of athletic fraternity competition for control of the Greek council, which would protect them from having any investigations into their treatment being railroaded and ignored.

One of the interesting things about this movie is how much things have changed.  Jocks vs. the nerds is an eternal battle, but we live in a time now where literally everyone is trying to lay claim to nerd-dom or geekery.
Beyond that, there's a lot of borderline behavior here that wouldn't fly in a contemporary film (seriously, a panty raid?  We have internet porn for that sort of thing now), whether it be considered hazing (the 20-lap, beer-a-lap tricycle race), bullying (take your pick, and it comes from every direction), borderline rape (Lewis' initial intimate encounter with Betty), or racial insensitivity (Booger's "What the fuck is a Robster Craw?").  Having said that, I still laughed at all of it (except the panty raid.  Seriously...), so I guess the bottom line is that something's only offensive if it's not funny.

"Revenge of the Nerds" isn't outrageous as some modern comedies (at least not in the same way - selling cream pies with a nude pic of the girl you're trying to get a date with is an interesting approach, to say the least), but it's paced really well, there are a number of memorable scenes, and it's got a good cast.  You could do a lot worse than kicking back with this one.

3 / 5 - NF Streaming

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