Revenge of the Nerds
|Revenge of the Nerds|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jeff Kanew|
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Edited by||Alan Balsam|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$60.4 million (including rentals)|
Revenge of the Nerds is a 1984 American teen sex 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.
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. 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 secure a dilapidated house near campus and repair it as a residence.
The Alpha Betas, led by star quarterback Stan Gable, are irked by the nerds' success, and Stan sets his fellow members to pull pranks against the nerds. The nerds try to get campus police to help, but the campus cops are constrained by the Greek Council that adjudicates all such pranks, of which Stan is currently president. The nerds decide to seek membership on the Greek Council by joining a national fraternity. The only one that considers them is the black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda (Tri-Lambs), led by U.N. Jefferson. Jefferson is wary of their application but agrees to a probationary period. The nerds set up a large party with the Omega Mu sorority, similarly made up of nerds, including Gilbert's girlfriend Judy, and invite Jefferson to attend. The party is dull until Booger provides them with high quality marijuana. The Alpha Betas and the Pi Delta Pis, the sorority which Stan's girlfriend Betty Childs belongs to, then disrupt the party by bringing and releasing pigs. The nerds exact revenge on both groups by pulling similar pranks. Jefferson is impressed with the nerds' tenacity and grants them full membership.
The nerds then appeal to the Council, but Gable is dismissive. 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 knowledge, the Tri-Lambs compete strongly with the Alpha Betas/Pi Delta Pis during the athletic events. At the charity fundraiser, the nerds heavily outsell the Alpha Betas by offering pies with naked pictures of Betty and other Pi Delta Pis on the bottom. During this, Lewis, who has fallen in love with Betty, steals Stan's costume and tricks Betty into engaging in sexual intercourse with him, hooking up with her. She is surprised when Lewis reveals his identity, but she admits he was "wonderful" and is not angry. 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 lambastes 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 address his complaints. The Alpha Betas try to stop him, but Jefferson and a group of national Tri-Lambs arrive to intimidate the Alpha Betas, giving 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. 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
- 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
- Julie Montgomery as Betty Childs
- Michelle Meyrink as Judy
- Ted McGinley as Stan Gable
- Matt Salinger as Danny Burke
- Donald Gibb as Frederick Aloysius "Ogre" Palowaski
- James Cromwell as Mr. Skolnick
- Lisa Welch as Suzy
- David Wohl as Dean Ulich
- John Goodman as Coach Harris
- Bernie Casey as U.N. Jefferson
- Alice Hirson as Mrs. Lowe
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. Exterior scenes such as the arrival of the nerds at college and the fraternity houses were filmed at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. The original Nerds residence, from which they were ousted by the Alpha Betas, was actually Cochise Hall. Their subsequent residence was U of A's Bear Down Gymnasium. The original Alpha Beta fraternity house that is burned down was filmed at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house (on University Boulevard). The Pi Delta Pi sorority house was actually the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.
|Revenge of the Nerds|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||July 20, 1984|
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.
Revenge of the Nerds was panned by 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 film holds a 70% approval rating and 5.9/10 average at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 43 critics' reviews. The consensus is: "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." It also holds a 44 out of 100 ratio on Metacritic based on six critics' reviews and signifying "mixed or average reviews". Revenge of the Nerds is #91 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
Due to the influence of the film, several chapters of Lambda Lambda Lambda have sprung up in different locations around the United States. The real life fraternity has six chapters in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Washington.
About three decades after the film's release, commentators have looked back 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)
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.
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.
- Aubrey Solomon (January 1, 1988). Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4616-7407-8.
- Brown, Peter H (January 20, 1985). "We're Talking Gross, Tacky and Dumb". Los Angeles Times.
- Grossberg, Josh (November 22, 2006). "No Revenge for New Nerds". E!. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
- "Field Marshal". Newsweek. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "Revenge of the Nerds". Turner Classic Movies. United States: Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
- "ResLife: Cochise Hall". Life.arizona.edu. Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- van Gelder, Lawrence (July 20, 1984). "Campus 'Nerds'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- "'Revenge of the Nerds': THR's 1984 Review". The Hollywood Reporter. July 20, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence (July 20, 1984). "CAMPUS 'NERDS'". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. p. C00008. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
- Revenge of the Nerds. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (DVD). Century City, Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox. March 6, 2007. ASIN B000M341QY. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
- 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.
- "Revenge of the Nerds". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
- "Revenge of the Nerds". Metacritic. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
- "Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" on Lists of Bests". Listsofbests.com. June 2, 2006. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Melissa Bishop (January 25, 2007). "Friends Start Fraternity From Scratch". The Daily Campus. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013.
- Hefland, Michael (July 1, 2015). "Abusing women was cool in the 80's". Chicago Now. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- Bradley, William (April 3, 2015). "Reconsidering Revenge: How Revenge Of The Nerds' Misogyny Is Evident In Current Nerd Culture". The Mary Sue. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- Benfor, Amy (October 9, 2009). "The "Sixteen Candles" date rape scene?". Salon. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- Knopper, Steve (July 26, 2019). "The Oral History of 'Revenge of the Nerds'". GQ. Condé Nast. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- Spellberg, Claire (July 26, 2019). "'Revenge of the Nerds' Filmmakers Address Controversial Rape Scene: "I Regret That"". Decider. New York Post. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- LaPorte, Nicole; Alex Romanelli (November 21, 2006). "Atomic blast to 'Nerds'". Variety. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- ""Nerds" Get Revenge on Agnes Scott Campus". Collegenews.org. November 3, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
- 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.
- "Naughty `Nerds' remake is shut down - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. November 23, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Terrace, Vincent (October 9, 2018). Encyclopedia of Unaired Television Pilots, 1945-2018. McFarland. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-4766-3349-7.
- Lentz, Harris M III (April 25, 2018). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2017. McFarland. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-4766-7032-4.
- Greene, Andy (February 14, 2013). "Curtis 'Booger' Armstrong on His New Reality Show, 'King of the Nerds'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
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