Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

“Those nerds are a threat to our way of life!”

Two freshmen (Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards) arrive at college ready to have fun and meet beautiful girls, but quickly find themselves homeless when a group of jocks take over their dorm. Banding together with other outcasts — including an underage genius (Andrew Cassese), a booger-eating misfit (Curtis Armstrong), a gay African-American (Larry B. Scott), an Asian exchange-student (Brian Tochi), and a bespectacled violin-player (Timothy Busfield) — they find a house and try to form a new fraternity.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • College
  • Comedy
  • Misfits
  • Revenge
  • Underdogs

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “surprise box-office hit” may be “just a silly teen comedy”, but is a “standout in [the] raunchy Porky’s genre because at least you don’t mind identifying with these characters.” He argues that while “there are some funny bits”, the “most enjoyment comes simply from hearing Carradine’s horsy laugh”:

and complains that “the bullying tactics of the football players are too cruel to be funny”. I disagree. Sure, the jocks are cruel and brutish (cartoonishly so):

but they get theirs BIG TIME, and the protagonists — a resilient, quirky bunch — eventually have the upper hand. What’s not to love about THAT? Edwards’ romance with a bespectacled female nerd (Michelle Meyrink) is an especially heartwarming subplot.

This may be the ultimate underdogs-get-their-day flick. Watch for a slimmish John Goodman as the jocks’ coach, and Bernie Casey as the head of Lambda Lambda Lambda, the historically black fraternity the nerds attempt to join.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Many enjoyably humorous moments

Must See?
Yes, as a feel-good cult favorite.


  • Cult Movie


One thought on “Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

  1. First viewing. Agreed, must-see.

    This is the film that ‘Animal House’ tried (way too hard) to be. I don’t agree with Peary’s view that “there are some funny bits”, but the “most enjoyment comes simply from hearing Carradine’s horsy laugh”. The film is much better than that and should be given credit for its genuinely funny script. As well, director Jeff Kanew is particularly good at supplying tons of visual humor to augment what isn’t actually there in the dialogue. (He really stayed on top of things to get the most out of every sequence.)

    It’s also a refreshingly *humane* flick (something unexpected for a film of this sort). All of the downtrodden characters are treated with immense respect, precluding anything offensive.

    Best of all… by film’s end, there’s a lovely tie-up message when Edwards and Carradine speak to the entire campus (while also speaking on behalf of anyone who has ever felt pointlessly or needlessly oppressed or rejected). I certainly did not anticipate an ending this heartwarming (!).

    All things considered, in terms of a comparison between ‘Animal House’ and ‘Revenge…’, maybe neither one is a great film – but, even if I didn’t think ‘Revenge…’ is hilariously funny (although occasionally it is), I did have a smile on my face more or less consistently throughout.

    At 90 minutes, it also doesn’t overstay its welcome. So it remains nice having it around.

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