Normally I like to link my Tuesday review to my Thursday one but, to be honest, I didn’t really relish the idea of watching an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice or another boring zombie film. So I decided to start trawling Netflix one night and kept coming back to this 80s classic. We all know that I love an 80s movie and college movies are my bread and butter. There’s nothing like a take of underdogs rising up to take revenge on the people who are making their lives hell. Although, if there’s one thing that we all have to admit, there were some things about the attitude of film writers in the 80s that don’t quite sit well today. So, how well does Revenge of the Nerds really stand up now we’ve all had time to really think about it.
Revenge of the Nerds follows best friends Lewis and Gilbert as they move to college. Both are typical nerds but neither seems able to realise this. Obviously, when they get to college they are immediately targeted by the jock fraternity Alpha Beta. The Alpha Betas throw the freshmen out of their dorms, horribly torment them and try and stall their attempts to create their own fraternity. The nerds are left with only on option: take their revenge… obviously.
Revenge of the Nerds is a silly example of this type of film than has enough humour to make it work. However, the jokes aren’t all as successful as it would prefer. A lot of the comedy comes from tired stereotypes that, especially watching it now, just seem painful. The token Asian character and his difficulty grasping the English language is more uncomfortable than side-splitting. Then there are nerds themselves. I don’t think watching Dr Mark Green and Lizzie McGuire’s dad guffawing, playing with robots and having a pocketful of pens with them at all times ever did anything to help nerd-kind. It’s just the same old awful fallback of nerds who are unaware they are nerdy and jocks too pigheaded to understand their own flaws. It’s boring and has no place in 2016.
It’s one of those films that you remember with fond feelings but when you come back as a grown-up you realise how horrendous it all is. The scene where nerd Lewis tricks a cheerleader into sleeping with him by pretending to be her boyfriend would never make it into screen in this day and age. This film is just more evidence that shows times were simpler pre-2000. The film industry didn’t see the ramifications of simple funny jokes like this.
Revenge of the Nerds has earned its classic status thanks to nostalgia and familiarity. It reminds people of their youth and takes them back to their past. Really though, there are better films of this kind out there and much more compelling stories. It’s hard to get to grips with the narrative when you aren’t really sure the nerds deserve come out on top. Yes, the jocks give them a hard time but they are more than happy to exact their revenge and exploit women for their own pleasure. Maybe it’s just me but I’m not exactly rooting for the perverts watching hidden camera footage of naked cheerleaders.
Watching Revenge of the Nerds in 2016 makes it feel like a bad joke that got out of hand. Something that should have been stopped a long time ago but was mistakenly given more chance than it deserved. It isn’t one of the best underdog movie nor the funniest but there is something vaguely charming about Lewis and Gilbert’s struggle… once you get passed the potentially rapey/sexual harassmenty elements of the narrative. You’ll probably be singing ‘We are the champions’ along with the gang by the final act.