Blu-ray Review: Revenge of the Nerds



Once a decade, it seems, there’s always one raunchy comedy aimed at teenagers that seems to be iconic for the generation watching it. The 1970s had Animal House, the 1990s had American Pie and while it remains to be seen which film in the first decade of the 21st century earns that designation the one film that was the most memorable of the teen comedy genre in the 1980s was Revenge of the Nerds.

And now it’s been released onto Blu-Ray.

Centering on a war of wills (of sorts) between the “jock” and “nerd” fraternities of Adams College, Revenge of the Nerds was a defining moment at a time where style mattered much more than substance. While its originality has been deluded somewhat in the years between, as well as a number of ill-advised sequels that have been subpar, Revenge of the Nerds remains a strong comedy for several reasons.

It has a stellar cast, for starters. While the only actor from the film that achieved a high level of stardom afterwards was Anthony Edwards of ER fame and John Goodman from Roseanne, and to a lesser extent Timothy Busfield and Ted McGinley, it’s a film that created memorable characters in its supporting cast. Perhaps in part to the fearless nature of character actors willing to be portrayed as less than savvy at critical times, we remember Booger (Curtis Armstrong), Lamar (Larry B. Scott) and Skolnik (Robert Carradine) in part because they were endearing on a certain level. They were sympathetic without being pathetic, but a lot of that has to do with the script as well as the actors using it. While the roles would haunt many of the actors for years to come, as they wound up typecast in the sort of roles the film made them famous for, there’s a reason why Carradine is remembered as president of the geek fraternity more than anything else he’s done in the two decades since. It’s a warm and funny performance that’s endearing on a number of levels. The protagonists are relatable characters because they are people who are realistic enough to be considered seriously (for a teen comedy, at least).

Revenge of the Nerds rests on its strength from a core group of actors who would become typecast through the film, but its strength is an underrated script. With plenty of comedy mixed in with some well-developed characters, it has a surprisingly strong and well-written plot that keeps the film from descending into a parody of itself.

The only problem the film has is that time has not been kind to it. Not time, per se, but the amount of sequels that have been made in the franchise has taken out a lot of the magic the original had. It’s hard to watch the original and not be reminded that for how great it is, there were a whole bunch of awful films that followed it trying to capitalize on some box office receipts for a cult classic.

I’m a Nerd and Pretty Proud of It is a retrospective on the film. Featuring the principle members of the cast, as well as Kanew, it’s a no-holds barred look at the film. With most of the cast just abandoning any aspect of playing up the usual EPK style of retrospective, it’s refreshing to hear most of the cast talk about how they weren’t enthused to do the film but did it with almost a mercenary mentality. It’s a warm reminisce by the cast as they talk about the party atmosphere of drinking and sex that they fully embraced during the production. Busfield relates a story about how Fox financed the film solely, needing the film as a tax write-off for Return of the Jedi. The cast relates so many funny stories about the whole production process, including Carradine relating a story about dressing up in character with Edwards and trying to join Rush week at a local fraternity of the college they shot the film at, or Armstrong relating that the noise coming out of his mouth during one particularly memorable moment was the sound of two camels mating.

Deleted Scenes are included from the film. Not really adding much back into the film, they’re amusing on a certain level but it’s obvious why they were cut out originally.

Revenge of the Nerds television pilot is the failed pilot for the television show based off the movie. With unknowns replacing the principle members of the cast in a recreation of the show, it’s not funny at all. The sort of magic from the film is completely missing as the film is a series of bad jokes that wouldn’t make the cut on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup.

All of those are from the original DVD release(s) of the film, just updated with better a/v. If you didn’t pick up the film before now this is probably a good BD to pick up. If not it doesn’t make sense unless you’re an A/V snob.

20th Century Fox presents Revenge of the Nerds. Directed by Jeff Kanew. Written by Jeff Buhai, Miguel Tejada-Flores, Steve Zacharias. Starring Ted McGinley, Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated R. Released: May 6, 2014.

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