It's a testament to the power of nostalgia that we can feel warm and fuzzy about people being dicks. The ‘80s—and arguably, beyond—gave free-reign to movies ostensibly depicting dudes just being dudes (AKA, dicks) with movies such as Animal House, Porky’s, and National Lampoons. Enter Revenge of the Nerds: a movie about “nerd equality, plain and simple.” Yet, in its attempts to showcase nerds gettin’ theirs, the movie portrays a host of stereotypes of its own. Likely, the universe made amends for some of the movie’s more uncomfortable scenes by cursing the career of Ted McGinley, whose television roles inspired an entire section of the website “Jump the Shark.”
But was ROTN really a movie about the struggle for equality or just another ‘80s film delivering sexism as comedy? It’s a difficult question, dear reader, one that’s best left for the scorecard to decide.
- Lewis’s father expresses desire to fornicate with female college freshman instead of Lewis’s mother. That, sir, is inappropriate. Let’s hope the rest of the movie will remain clean and family-friendly. = -15pts
- Lewis and Gilbert lug their huge trunk around campus to shouts of “Nerds! Nerds!” We’re wondering, why did they pack all their stuff together in one suitcase? = -5pts
- The discord between the coach and the dean echoes the jock/nerd rivalry amongst the students—the subtle layers of drama! = +10pts
- “Call me Booger.” = +40pts
- Why is Takashi standing in the locker room collecting jock straps? There is no reasonable explanation for this. = -15pts
- Booger’s actual t-shirt slogans: Greasy Tony’s, High on Stress, Gimme Head Til I’m Dead. = +35pts
- Judy is going to accordion class? Lewis and Gilbert were right; the academic rigor of Atoms College is truly superb. = +25pts
- In the future, anyone who can listen to “One Foot in Front of the Other” and not think of the best fixing-stuff-up montage of all time will immediately be outed as a replicant. = +40pts
- “I thought I was looking at my mother’s old douche bag, but that’s in Ohio.” Ohio is finally on the map! We did it, guys! = +35pts
- For teaching us that mopery is the act of exposing yourself to a blind person. = +41pts
- The police officer informs the boys that criminal acts committed by fraternity members can only be prosecuted by the Greek Council. Seems legit. = -40pts
- The Dean of Students officiates Greek Council? This guy seriously earns his paycheck. = +8pts (We’ve seen the Dean of our university once, and that was in a photograph.)
- Featuring women of various ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. = +50pts
- Labeling said women the Omega Moos. = -50pts
- Who works out in sweatpants and a leather jacket? Ogre does. = +10pts
- Because Poindexter’s question “would you rather live in the ascendancy of a civilization or in its decline” was the original “would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized horses.” = +80pts
- Liquid heat underwear salad. = +10pts
- The only way to become president of the council is to win the homecoming carnival? The political landscape of the ‘80s was a harsh one. = -20pts
- Presenting a community that embraced all members, regardless of sexual orientation. = +60pts
- Designing a javelin for one of said member’s “limp wristed” throwing style. = -60pts
- These pies are just Readywhip in an aluminum tin? I know that college is lean times, but those standards are low. = -20pts
- J.D. Salinger’s son hassles some nerds. = +7pts
- Lewis tricked Betty into having sex with him, filmed her sleeping without her consent, and sold nude photos of her in pie tins, but now she’s in love with him… Betty, you’re killing your father. = -100pts
- Proving a sweet musical number atones for many sins. = +100pts
- “Those bastards trashed our house. Why? Because we look different? Because we’re smart?” Edited from the original: “Because we videotaped women naked without their consent?” = -100pts
- And surprising no one, the marching band crosses over to team nerd. = +25pts
- For being the only thing Ted McGinley didn’t Ted McGinley. = +30pts
Available on: DVD, On Toby Radloff’s home movie shelf.
The nerds’ fight obviously paid off career-wise: Timothy Busfield (Poindexter) would go on to win an Emmy for Thirty Something; Anthony Edwards (Gilbert) would star in Top Gun and ER; and Robert Carradine (Lewis) would have roles in Lizzie McGuire and Django Unchained. And while some stars of ROTN felt ashamed of the nerd origins (Anthony Edwards, we’re looking at you), others embraced it, squeezing the last drops of blood out of the franchise until 1994’s Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love.
The Tri-Lambs definitely paved the way for nerd equality... but taking into account the acts of breaking and entering, voyeurism, and the fancy legal sounding term for distributing naked photographs of women who did not want to be photographed, we're thinking the only real differences between Stan Gable and Lewis Skolnik is a pair of glasses and a robot maid. Still… how awesome was Lamar’s breakdancing scene?
Score Technician: Amanda Hemmerling