Thursday, May 28, 2015
Revenge of the Nerds
Directed by Jeff Kanew and screenplay by Jeff Buhai, Miguel Tejada-Flores, and Steve Zacharias from a story by Tim Metcalfe, Revenge of the Nerds is the story about a group of misfit and oddball freshmen who decide to fight back against a jock fraternity with their intelligence in the hope that they can enjoy collegiate life. It’s a film that plays into the world of the underdog mentality as a group of young men deal with not just prejudice for being very different and weird but also realize that they can’t back down for who they are. Starring Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Curtis Armstrong, Timothy Busfield, Larry B. Scott, Andrew Cassese, Michelle Meyrink, Brian Tochi, Ted McGinley, Donald Gibb, Julia Montgomery, David Wohl, Bernie Casey, James Cromwell, and John Goodman. Revenge of the Nerds is a wild and rapturous film from Jeff Kanew.
The film is a simple story about a group of newly-arrived freshmen students who arrive to Adams College as they’re being harassed and ridiculed by a jock fraternity forcing these group of geeky and brainy men to fight back with their intelligence. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore the social politics of college but also how this group of odd and diverse misfits who don’t really fit into any kind of clique come together and stand up for themselves. Along the way, hilarity ensues involving panty raids, a party with an equally-odd band of sorority sisters, and other antics. Especially as they find ways to humiliate the jocks in their own unique way and win over people who have dealt with prejudice or have a hard time with conformity.
The film’s screenplay not only bring in a lot of humor to the film as it plays into many of the antics that occur but also portray many of the characters as real people. Leading the pack are Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine) and Gilbert Lowe (Anthony Edwards) who are just a couple of freshmen that want to study computer science and have some fun. Yet, because of the carelessness of the jock fraternity in the Alpha Betas when they burned their house down during a party. The freshmen including Skolnick and Lowe are forced to live in the gym with other outcasts including a near-sighted geek named Poindexter (Timothy Busfield), a Japanese student in Takashi (Brian Tochi), a 12-year old aerodynamics expert named Wormser (Andrew Cassese), the openly-gay Lamar (Larry B. Scott), and a perverted slob named Booger (Curtis Armstrong). There, the band of outcasts eventually find a house to live in and apply into a fraternity where they’re given a tryout by a fraternity president in U.N. Jefferson (Bernie Casey) to be part of his all-black fraternity known as Lambda Lambda Lambda.
The script also plays into this back-and-forth conflict between the nerds and the Alpha Betas as the jock themselves in star quarterback Stan Gable (Ted McGinley), Danny Burke (Matt Salinger), and Ogre (Donald Gibb) try to intimidate them physically and pull off these very mean pranks. At the same time, they would abuse their own power as leaders of the school’s Greek council to get things their way which only drive the nerds to fight back with the aid of the equally-nerdy and oddball sorority in the Omega Mus against the Alpha Betas and the Pi Delta Pi sorority in an annual competition. The script doesn’t just showcase these Nerds trying to prove that anyone can do it by being themselves but also be proud of who they are. Even as they manage to be a threat to the Alpha Betas and their idea of conformity and power.
Jeff Kanew’s direction is very simple as it doesn’t go for anything stylistic as it’s more concerned with creating a film that is consistently funny. Shot on location near Tucson, Arizona, the film plays into the world of college life outside of academics as it focuses on a world that is changing. One of which involves a group of jocks and party animals who often get in their way and not think about what is ahead of them. Then you have the nerds who arrive not only to expand their own intelligence but also find a place where they can have fun and also think of a future for themselves. Kanew’s approach to compositions often involve a lot of medium shots and close-ups as he’s more concerned with maintaining a sense of energy that is happening during the antics that occur such as the panty-raid sequence and the party scene with the Omega Mus where the nerds get very high on marijuana provided by Booger.
The film also features these very offbeat moments in the humor such as some of the scenes at the annual fraternity-sorority competition as it reveals exactly what the nerds would do if they’re forced to take part in physical competitions. There’s also moments where some of the humor is quite crass as it involves some of Booger’s own gross antics where he is able to challenge Ogre into a belching contest. It all plays into the wild world of college as it proves that nerds can party to but also not be afraid to say who they are. Especially in the film’s ending where one of them has finally had enough of the abuse in the hands of the jocks and felt that something needs to be said. Overall, Kanew creates a wild yet enjoyable film about a bunch of nerds taking a stand against a bunch of idiotic jocks.
Cinematographer King Baggot does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography to play into the sunny look of the locations along with some unique lighting schemes for some scenes set at night. Editor Alan Balsam does fantastic work with the editing with its stylish cuts from the sequence of the nerds cleaning up the house they would live in to some slow-motion cuts for some of the competitive moments. Production designer James L. Schoppe and set decorator Frank Lombardo do terrific work with the look of the gym and the home the nerds would live in as well as the hall of the Greek council.
Sound editor Michael O’Corrigan does nice work with some of the sound effects as well as some of the craziness that occurs in some of the parties and collegiate activities. The film’s music by Thomas Newman is brilliant for its mixture electronic-based music with some orchestral elements while music supervisor Martin Schwartz creates a fun soundtrack that features music from Michael Jackson, Queen, Gleaming Spires, Ya Ya, Andrea & Hot Mink, Bone Symphony, The Rubinoos, Jill Michaels and Pat Robinson, and Revenge (not the U.K. 90s group of the same name).
The casting by Susan Arnold and Paula Herold is great as it features some notable small roles from James Cromwell as Lewis’ dad, Alice Hirson as Gilbert’s mother, Matt Salinger as the Alpha Beta Danny Burke, Donald Gibb as the caveman-like Alpha Beta named Ogre, and David Wohl in a terrific performance as the college’s dean who sympathizes with the nerds as he is often bullied by the football coach. John Goodman is fantastic as the college’s football coach Harris who doesn’t like the nerds as he would encourage his players to humiliate them. Ted McGinley is superb as the star quarterback Stan Gable who sees nerds as inferior as he often cares more about himself than his girlfriend. Julia Montgomery is wonderful as Stan’s girlfriend Betty who is often pursued by Lewis as she deals with Stan’s selfishness.
Michelle Meyrink is brilliant as the nerdy Judy who befriends Gilbert as she would help him and the nerds meet her sorority in the Omega Mus who are total party animals. Bernie Casey is phenomenal as Lambda Lambda Lambda leader U.N. Jefferson who is reluctant to have the nerds join his fraternity until he realizes what they’re capable of in being able to stand up for themselves. Brian Tochi and Timothy Busfield are excellent in their respective roles as Takashi and Poindexter as two very different nerds with Tochi as a Japanese exchange student and Busfield as a near-sighted nerd with thick glasses.
Andrew Cassese is amazing as the 12-year old genius Wormser who becomes very interested in women while Larry B. Scott is fabulous as the openly-gay Lamar who is quite smart but also has great fashion sense. Curtis Armstrong is incredible as Booger as a slob who doesn’t fit in anywhere as he parties with the nerds and gets them to have fun. Anthony Edwards is remarkable as Gilbert Lowe as the more sensitive nerd who is able to find a girl but is also the one guy that refuses to be intimidated as he rallies the nerds into standing up for themselves. Finally, there’s Robert Carradine in a marvelous performance as Lewis Skolnick as a nerd with a distinctive laugh that is eager to have a good time and be smart while is also someone that just wants to be accepted.
Revenge of the Nerds is a tremendous film from Jeff Kanew. It’s a film that manages to not only explore the social world of college cliques but also manages to find some heart and laughs into a bunch of people who don’t fit in while being able to be proud of who they are. In the end, Revenge of the Nerds is a spectacular film from Jeff Kanew.
Related: (Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise) - (Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation) - (Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love)
© thevoid99 2015
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What a fun movie this is. I must have seen this a dozen times, back in the day. Booger was practically my hero for a little while. Of course, the panty-raid scene was my favorite, along with the ensuing watch party after they rigged all the cameras. I had no idea how creepy that was, lol.
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