Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy Revenge of the Nerds (Kanew, 1984)

Revenge of the Nerds (Kanew, 1984)

How this became a classic of any kind is beyond me. Classics are films we remember years later, whether it be because of memorable characters, stylish direction or even some witty dialogue, but this film is, put simply, one of the most forgettable films I’ve ever seen. From one-dimensional characters, to incredibly witty nicknames like ‘Poindexter’ and ‘Booger,’ I laughed only a few times, and even now I forget why.

The Jeff Kanew-directed flick is about a bunch of nerds and misfits who, after being rejected by every fraternity on campus, decide to start their own. First they approach the nerd-hating Greek Council, who inform them they cannot start their own chapter without sponsorship from another, in this case the all black Lamda Lamda Lamda (or Tri-Lamb). After the jocks from popular fraternity Alpha Beta crash a party being thrown by the nerds for their potential sponsors,  the nerds decide to fight back. After our new Tri-Lambs realise their Greek Council is in fact headed by rival fraternity Alpha Beta, they decide the only way to become top dogs is by winning the Homecoming Carnival, and thus gaining control of the Greek Council.

The film has the low-brow humour expected of a “college” film, along with a disturbing romance, a collage of one-dimensional characters and some obvious visual gags, just so we all know what’s going on. There’s a perverted slob named ‘Booger,’ played by Richard Curtis, who does his best with what he’s given, a guy with the worst optometrist in the world, and a few other guys with glasses, one of whom has managed to build a fully-functional robot before finishing high school without releasing any helpful information to any sort of scientific firm. Not to mention a twelve-year-old who has managed to graduate high school and sits nicely in college without so much as a word about him on the news. Then there’s the bad guys, with their incredibly crafty, handsome quarterback who leads the pack and the ugly baffoons, with a 1.5GPA between them, who follow him.

Not only are the characters and dynamics incredibly obvious, they are also, as I said earlier, incredibly one-dimensional. Every character in the film is just there to serve one purpose, whether it to be good at something, or the butt of several jokes, the only time a character acts differently, it’s not because they’ve developed over the course of the film, it’s because they’ve just been spun 180 degrees to serve the next joke or purpose apparently needed of them. Only two characters show any form of emotional or mental development, but even then it’s just in time for said characters to deliver a surprisingly moving speech at the film’s climax, followed by an all-too-tidy finish.

I came into this film expecting a memorable classic so typical of 1980s teen movies (thankyou, John Hughes) but I left hardly remembering a thing. I can only remember two characters by name and characteristics, but oneso because he’s so exaggeratedly bad it’s hard to not remember him. I can barely remember the correct sequence of events if you asked me, and why half the events in the film happen, let alone any form of memorable quote or joke. I spent more time trying to explain to myself why the writing was clever enough to be considered a classic, or why I was told the film was a “quintessential teen comedy” than actually laughing at or enjoying the film.

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