I went to a Sci-Fi “Con” and the movie Revenge of the Nerds (1984) came to mind starring, among others, a young Anthony Edwards, Ted McGinley and Robert Carradine.
I went to Wiscon (a feminist Sci-Fi convention) over the Memorial Day weekend and then it came to me: Revenge of the Nerds all the way back to 1984! I was not even in high school when this masterpiece came out but it made me laugh pretty hard especially given my sci-fi surroundings.
For those of you who may not have seem this film, or at least may have forgotten about it, Revenge of the Nerds really is a classic 1980’s film: “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” according to Rotten Tomatoes. And a minor classic it is.
The film starts with Edwards and Carradine (both nerds) going to the fictional Atoms College. They are kicked out of the freshmen dorms by the Alpha Betas, a fraternity composed primarily of football team members, after the Alphas carelessly burn down their own frat house. Dean Ulich sets up the freshmen in temporary quarters in the school’s gymnasium, but allows them to rush the fraternities to alleviate their housing situation. Lewis, Gilbert, and other nerds fail to gain fraternity membership, but are able to rent and completely renovate a rundown two-story campus house.
However, the nerds are not left alone by the “jocks” who continue to haze them to the point of destroying their newly renovated residence. Being the last straw, predictably, causes a showdown wherein nerd-Edwards makes a moving speech about nerd oppression turning the crows of listeners to their side and the Dean then orders the jock-Alpha Betas to repair the nerds’ house while allowing the nerds to stay in the Alpha Beta’s house until the repairs are completed with the dean stating “you’re jocks, go live in the gym.” The film ends with the nerds and alumni celebrating their victory, as rock band Queen’s power ballad “We Are the Champions” plays over the scene.
A word about some of the key actors mentioned above, of course Robert Carradine being the youngest son of Kung Fu Legend David Carradine playing the nerd-fraternity president and Anthony Edwards who would later go on to co-star in the hit Top Gun and then star in the TV series ER for many years. Perhaps the most interesting actor Ted McGinley was given the name “the patron saint of shark-jumping” by jumptheshark.com founder Jon Hein. This is a reference to the popular and enduring shows which have featured him in their declining years often to replace a departing regular cast member. Shark-jumping shows like Happy Days and The Love Boat until he eventually go to Married With Children where he replaced one of the main characters but the show went on for another 6-7 years due in part to McGinley’s new character.
If you like John Hughes films you’ll like Revenge of the Nerds.