Revenge Of The Nerds

(Jeff Kanew; 1984)

Robert Carradine - Lewis


Anthony Edwards - Gilbert


Curtis Armstrong - Booger


Tim Busfield - Poindexter


Brian Tochi - Takashi


Larry B. Scott - Lamar


Andrew Cassese - Wormser

Anthony Edwards, Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong and John Goodman.

[Booger: "Blow them up"] [Takashi: "What is a nerd?"] [Coach: "Asses whipped by nerds speech"]

This is one of the most well remembered (name-wise if not story-wise at any rate) teen movies. Revenge of the Nerds is a classic teen movie premise given an original twist. It basically takes the idea from Animal House. New freshman arrive at college. They try to join different fraternities with the 'jock' frat house being mean and rejecting them whilst the 'non-jock' fraternity takes them in and the two frats wage war on each other in a series of elaborate, embarrasing and amusing stunts. Eventually the non-jock side wins out. The difference with this film is unlike Animal House where the freshman join the party fraternity, full of the students into drinking and partying and very little interest in studying, our two protaganists (Lewis - Robert Carradine - and Gilbert - ER's Anthony Edwards) don't have a frat to join and start their own full of 'nerds'. They don't know how to party or do anything other than study. You can see why the jocks hate them.

Basically the plot is Lewis and Gilbert are going off to college for the first time. Meanwhile the jocks (led by Stan and encouraged by John Goodman's nasty, nerd-hating coach) accidentally burn their frat house down during a party. The coach convinces the weak Dean to let the jocks have the halls of residence where the freshman are. This results in the freshers having to live in the gym until a fraternity accepts them. When Lewis & Gilbert are tricked into trying to join the jock one by Betty (Stan's girlfriend and leader of the jocks sister sorority) they get humiliated and tarred and feathered. Then they decide to start their own frat. along with all the other nerds left in the gym. Only one fraternity accepts them, the previously all black fraternity Lamda Lamda Lamda. Then the war between the jocks and the nerds really kicks off with many pranks including installing hidden cameras in the womens house during a panty run so they can watch them change. After being humiliated one too many times by the jocks and not being able to get justice as the jocks control the disciplinary commitee - the greek council - the nerds know they have to win control of the council by winning the end of year games. These include a drunken tricycle race, a belching contest, a money raising scheme and a live performance piece. Obviously the nerds win out which displeases the coach and jocks and they trash the nerds house which leads to Gilbert giving an impassioned speech, Lewis accepting his nerdom and us all realising that its okay to be a nerd and they shouldn't be picked on.


This is a good film.The first to pick up the mantle from Animal House of the whole frat wars theme. Plus the original twist of having the nerds as the hero instead of as a side character called Eugene who is only there to be stereotyped and made fun of occaisonally (a la Happy Days or Saved By The Bell). As the film progresses you do begin to sympathise more and more with Lewis and Gilbert and co. as the jocks and their women really do seem to be being uber-mean for no reason other than John Goodman's coach egging them on. As with most movies like this there is always some amount of stereotyping. Most of the jocks are big dumb meatheads (none more so than Ogre). The nerds all have their own stereotypes as well. We have Lewis and Gilbert who just look the part with sensible hair, glasses, moronic laughs and a love of computers. Then there is Poindexter who has crazy hair, bad suits and seems unable to talk to women. Next is Booger (Curtis Armstrong who puts in another memorable performance) who is the party animal into drinking, women and slacking. He is only not in the jock houses as he isn't into sport and is a bit too disgusting. But he is still everyone's fav. nerd. Then there is Wormser. A child genius enrolled by his parents. Finally we have Lamar andd Takashi. They are in the nerd reject house soley because Lamar is a gay black man (in a very stereotyped, limp-wristed, camp way) and Takashi is foreign (Japanese I believe). But this isn't a film that is interested in telling a realistic story to get its important moral point across. It is all about the pranks and the stereotypes just help add to the comedy.
The acting in this is of a high standard with everyone making their characters believable. The pranks are quite good and the end of year games were a nice idea which are used quite well. Also the love interest angle isn't quite as expected with Lewis winning head jock Stan's girl. We are also treated to the revelation that jocks are bad in bed because all they think about is sport but nerds are great because all they think about is sex.(An idea which is reused in the later unrelated film Assault Of The Party Nerds) The only down points on this film are firstly when watching them install hidden cameras in the women's house to watch them changing just seems far too seedy in this day and age when people have been arrested for doing similar things with web-cams. Secondly the whole house painting scenes whilst very good just remind me a bit too much of Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark, but that's probably just me. Also if this was set in Britain I could believe the drunken tricycle race at Uni a bit more but as America has those crazy drinking laws of over 21s I find it hard to believe the college would actually encourage this race. But that is just a minor niggle.
This film has spawned three sequals - Revenge Of The Nerds II - Nerds In Paradise, ROTN III and ROTN IV - Nerds In Love. Each has some of the original members coming back for cameos or the whole film. Whils ROTN II has some nice touches it is really just more of the same (plus a tank). If you only want to watch one I recommend watching the first. A good humoured comedy with a small message and a lot of fun involved!

ROTN Poster


John Goodman - Anti-Nerd Coach


Ted McGinley - Stan


Julie Montgomery - Betty


Donald Gibb - Ogre - Not a nerd


David Wohl - Dean Ulich


Bernie Casey - Head of Lamda lamda Lamda


Poindexter on violin


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