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Revenge of the Nerds(1984)
At a big campus, a group of bullied outcasts and misfits resolve to fight back for their peace and self respect.
For more about Revenge of the Nerds and the Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray release, see Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 7, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Timothy Busfield, Curtis Armstrong, Donald Gibb, James Cromwell
Director: Jeff Kanew
» See full cast & crew
Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray Review
The Big Bang Theory: The Previous Generation.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 7, 2014
Though we are in no way part of the show's preferred demographic (which I sense is young males in that vaunted 18- 24 age range), my wife and I have become hooked on Comedy Central's new faux "game show", @ Midnight, reveling in the often insouciant humor of three comedians ripping into that day's internet insanity. Host Chris Hardwick is an affable sort who clearly delights in his own self admitted geekiness, to the point that Hardwick launched the wonderfully titled Nerdist network and in fact goes by the Twitter handle @nerdist. On another part of the television spectrum, The Big Bang Theory's celebration of nerdism has been a Top 10 staple for years. These are only two of probably many examples of how much the cultural zeitgeist has changed since Revenge of the Nerds premiered in 1984. Nerds may have been lovable back in the Reagan era, but they were the apotheosis of cool. Whether they'd admit it or not, guys wanted to be the football playing jocks and girls pined to be cheerleaders, even if their native genetics and/or talents didn't point in that general direction. Now—well, people like Hardwick are cool, in their own geeky, nerdy way. Revenge of the Nerds follows in the semi-proud footsteps of other raucous college based comedies like National Lampoon's Animal House, detailing the adventures of best buddies (and inveterate nerds) Gilbert Lowe (Anthony Edwards) and Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine), two guys who socially might not rise to the level of Dumb and Dumber, but who are nonetheless possessed of native smarts, something that plays into the film's thesis that the meek (and brainy) may indeed inherit the Earth, for whatever that's worth, considering the boorish louts the nerds have to deal with.
There's a sweet undercurrent running through Revenge of the Nerds that helps to soften some of the comedy bits that either try too hard or which simply don't land. Right off the bat, the two main characters of Lewis (Robert Carradine) and Gilbert (Anthony Edwards) are lovable and endearing, even if they are total nerds. Their admission into Adams College is a source of pride and excitement—if a little nervousness as well. When Lewis' father (James Cromwell) drops the boys office, he imparts a bit of fatherly advice to both (Gil's father is evidently deceased) and then leaves them forage for their own on the campus. Within seconds, they are identified as nerds by a local frat house inhabited by all the most muscle bound and popular jocks, including the appropriately named Ogre (Donald Gibb), who takes an instant dislike to the pair.
In one of many improbabilities running rampant throughout Revenge of the Nerds, the jock frat, Alpha Beta, ends up burning down its house at a drunken party one night, and under the looming presence of martinet Coach Harris (John Goodman), the college dean Ulich (David Wohl) allows the frat boys to displace unaffiliated freshmen living in the regular dorm house. That sends Lewis and Gilbert out onto the street—or at least to a corner of the gym, where a bunch of misfits end up banding together, especially after they're not chosen by other fraternities when Dean Ulich allows freshmen to pledge due to the housing crisis.
That sets the main arc of the plot in motion, when Lewis finds a dilapidated old house and decides to try to join a national fraternity after getting nonstop hassling from both the Alpha Betas and their affiliated sorority Pi Delta Pi (filled with cheerleaders, of course). Lewis, Gilbert and a host of other nerds including Arnold Poindexter (Timothy Busfield), child genius Harold Wormser (Andrew Cassese) and very "Bluto"- esque Booger (Curtis Armstrong), find themselves powerless at Greek Council until they find a sponsoring organization in the largely black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda. Once they become the Adams College chapter of the so-called Tri-Lambs, the outrage of the ruling elite as epitomized by the Alpha Betas and Pi Delts only increases, leading to a number of raids on each other's territory.
While it's easy and even understandable to lump Revenge of the Nerds in with film's like Animal House, when viewing this outing through the prism of much raunchier fare that was soon to invade the cineplexes, much of Revenge of the Nerds comes off as almost charmingly quaint and naïve. There's a kind of "the last shall be first" ethos running through the film which is probably more overt than it needs to be, and which ends up not really going much of anywhere in the long run (the Alpha Betas pretty much just stand around in the big "showdown" scene that caps the film). But there's some sweet, if goofy and occasionally even annoying, humor informing most of the movie, from Lewis' maddening honk of a laugh (something Carradine evidently cribbed from Cromwell, at least according to the commentary track) to Gilbert's slow but steady courting of a girl he meets in computer lab. Revenge of the Nerds may not in fact have the same level of raucous laughs that Animal House has, but it has something at least as good—a little heart.
Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray, Video Quality
Revenge of the Nerds is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. With an understanding that Revenge of the Nerds was never a crystal clear viewing experience, this high definition is commendable on several levels. Colors are very nicely saturated and accurate looking, with reds being especially notable in their pop and vividness. Contrast is also solid and consistent throughout the presentation. Sharpness is certainly not at contemporary levels, understandably so, so expectations must be somewhat moderated, for even some midrange shots are pretty hazy looking. Some others, though, as well as some close-ups, provide excellent levels of fine detail in things like the fibers in the bright red sweater that Stan Gable (Ted McGinley) keeps wrapped around his neck. Grain can be quite heavy at times in this presentation, indicating that no over aggressive denoising has been done to this release. A healthy bitrate helps to ensure that no compression artifacts crop up during the presentation.
Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Revenge of the Nerds' lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix is just a bit brittle and shrill sounding at times, more so in the opening moments, especially with regard to the first few notes of Alfred Newman's famous Fox fanfare, which sounds here like it's being played by another Fox entity: namely, the student band in The Simpsons. Things improve after that, but this is a fairly narrow and shallow sounding track which nonetheless offers a clean account of dialogue and source cues.
Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Revenge of the Nerds Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Revenge of the Nerds is unabashedly juvenile at times, but it has a built in audience due to the fact that, to paraphrase one of the nerds in the film, "there are more of us than there are of you" (meaning the beautiful people like jocks and cheerleaders). That sweet undercurrent of underdogs coming out on top informs this film and provides the emotional component that helps to offset some iffy comedy. Carradine and Edwards are a lot of fun as the titular nerds, and the supporting cast is colorful and hyperbolic. This Blu-ray release sports generally very good to excellent technical specs, and comes Recommended.
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