A Look Back: Revenge of the Nerds

Whatever trials and tribulations you may have dealt with your first semester in college – gaining unwanted weight, having difficulty budgeting your time, or drunken roommates stumbling in late Saturday nights to vomit in the wastebasket, it’s a sure bet that they weren’t anywhere near where poor Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards endure in “Revenge of the Nerds.” Arriving at the fictional Adams College, they are thrilled at the prospect of living on their own and maybe, just maybe, catching up on their sexual education. However, things soon go awry when a jock-ish fraternity, the Alpha Betas, manage to accidentally burn down their own house and are promptly moved into the freshman dorm – which naturally means, the two “nerds” and their ilk are forced to relocate to the gym. Yes. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you at least managed to keep your dorm room for the first semester; even if you found your roommate a “challenge” to live with, you probably didn’t have to dodge basketballs while you studied.

Since none of them are thrilled about the new arrangements, the group (which includes Timothy Busfield, Curtis Armstrong and Andrew Cassese) jumps at the chance to pledge a campus fraternity, but surprisingly, they meet resistance here, too. Ever enterprising, they persist, and eventually get a nod from the Lambda Lambda Lambdas (an African-American off campus frat) no doubt because it’s the only frat that they neglected to submit a group photo to. Upon meeting the group, the Tri-Lambs aren’t too eager but are nevertheless willing to give the nerds a chance to prove themselves – which they do by pranking the Alpha Betas and their corresponding sorority, Pi Delta Pis. They then follow this triumph up by competing against both in the Homecoming’s Greek Games, which will hopefully result in first place – and the chance to be in charge of the Greek Council.

Of course, there is girl drama, too (and girl success), but at the conclusion of the Games, certain events threaten to derail the nerds’ future, which leads to Robert and Anthony taking the stage and finally speaking out on behalf of “nerds” everywhere.

Lewis: Hi, Gilbert. I’m a nerd too. I just found that out tonight. We have news for the beautiful people. There’s a lot more of us than there are of you. I know there’s alumni here tonight. When you went to Adams you might’ve been called a spazz, or a dork, or a geek. Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you’re a nerd or not, why don’t you just come down here and join us. Okay? Come on.

Gilbert: Just join us cos uh, no-one’s gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends.

This, of course, has the effect of galvanizing the crowd, and they at last triumph. However, the Alpha Betas are again facing potential homelessness, since they trashed the nerds’ house, and the nerds are going to be sharing theirs until repairs can be made.

So what should they do about the fact that once again they are homeless? Pay attention to the reply given by the Dean (David Wohl).

“You’re jocks. Go sleep in the gym.”

Which has to be one of the best touchés in cinematic history.

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