When will geeks, dorks, dweebs and doofuses get their revenge?
There weren’t a lot of high hopes for Revenge of the Nerds. Thinking it would be a flop, producers didn’t put much money into its production or promotion. The director and actors didn’t want to do the movie at first, not getting into it until after the cameras started rolling. Somehow, it never occurred to anyone involved that the movie was called Revenge of the Nerds, and that, upon hearing that title, every ’80s-era young person would rush out to see it. The movie was a hit in theaters, and then it made an even bigger splash in the still-new cable TV and home video markets. Now it’s time for the nerds to take their revenge on Blu-ray.
Lewis (Robert Carradine, Lizzie Maguire) and Gilbert (Anthony Edwards, E.R.) are nerds! More specifically, they’re lifelong best friends about to start their freshman year of college. When the athlete jerks from the Alpha Beta fraternity kick the nerds out of their dorm, the nerds end up sleeping in the gym. Desperate to strike back against those no-good jocks, our heroes rally the rest of their nerd kin to start their own fraternity. Their goal: Take on the Alpha Betas at the annual homecoming festival, with the winner being the new head of the school’s Greek council. Along the way, there will be drinking, partying, sex, pranks, robots, more sex, and a wobbly javelin.
Let’s get the uncomfortable part of the discussion out of the way first: There’s no way this movie could be made today. This movie is raunchy—a genuine, unflinching kind of raunchy that you don’t see any more in today’s retro-looking, generally post-modern cinema. Sure, there are R-rated comedies today, but in the likes of The Hangover, the filth exists to shock audiences. In Revenge of the Nerds, the filth just is. The crudeness and rampant sexism is just the world that these characters live in, and if you’re going to get any enjoyment from this one, you’ve got to accept that and immerse yourself in this world right alongside the nerds. Women are objectified sex objects, there are gross racial stereotypes, a gross homosexual stereotype, and drinking and drug use are glorified big time. It’s offensive, but the movie’s not trying to be offensive, it’s just being its own movie.
OK, so why not toss Revenge of the Nerds out with the nearest pile of discarded jock straps? Because a lot of the laughs land. There’s very little plot or character development to speak of, just a series of goofy set pieces. The key ingredient, the one that we can point to for the movie’s success, is the ensemble cast. Everybody really gels, as each character is memorable and there’s great chemistry. Curtis Armstrong (Moonlighting) is a fan-favorite as the disgusting Booger, and Timothy Busfield (Thirtysomething) disappears into his character as the spaced-out Poindexter. On the jocks’ side of the fence, the hulkingly huge Ogre (Donald Gibb, Bloodsport) is also good for plenty of riotous slapstick. The cast also features some familiar faces in supporting roles, including John Goodman (Matinee), James Cromwell (Babe), and Ted McGinley (Married With Children).
The “partying college dudes” type of comedy is not for everyone, even if Revenge of the Nerds is a better entry in this often-awful subgenre. If you don’t dig the frat boy thing, this movie will do nothing to convince you otherwise.
Presented in 1.85:1/1080p HD widescreen, the visual quality has an overall softness. It lacks the razor-sharp clarity of the best Blu-rays, but maintains the “look” of films from this area. More importantly, there are no glaring flaws in the visuals. Although upgraded to DTS-HD losses, the audio remains a 1.0 mono track. Still, the track is decent, most notably when the synth-rock tunes kick in.
All of the extras have been ported over from the “Panty Raid Edition” DVD. This includes a fun commentary and an excellent tell-all behind-the-scenes documentary with the director and actors. From there, we’ve got some deleted scenes, the trailer, and the horrifyingly bad 1991 Revenge of the Nerds TV pilot. If you own the “Panty Raid Edition,” this disc isn’t really worth the upgrade. If the movie’s not yet in your collection, this is the one to get.
Revenge is sweet.