(On DVD, February 2011) By the time a fourth installment in a comedy series rolls around as a TV movie, much of the magic is gone and so there isn’t a whole lot to say about Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love other than it makes for a pale epilogue to an already low-flying series. Even the plot feels like “a very special episode”, as a long-running character gets married and hijinks ensue. Lazily opposing nonconformist heroes (who become less and less nerdy as time goes by) to straight-laced villains, Nerds in Love takes the cheap and easy way forward every time. The villains are bigger caricatures than before, the plotting is dumb to the point of insult and the film is so desperate for laughs that it ends up featuring a food fight and a birth scene in the middle of the usual antics surrounding movie weddings. Robert Carradine does his best to keep up the spirit of the previous film and, to his credit, actually anchors a cast (including a guest appearance by James Cromwell) that doesn’t completely ruin it: Nerds in Love may not be much of a film, but it’s endearing to those who have stuck with the series so far, and it keeps up the charming nerdiness that made the first film such a fond memory. The DVD contains a deleted scene but no special features of note.
(On DVD, February 2011) While it would be easy to dismiss this as a quick straight-to-video follow-up to a series that saw better days, there’s actually a mixed bag of tricks in this third entry in the Revenge of the Nerds series: As botched as the execution can be, there’s some interesting material in seeing nerds grow up, a new group arriving on the scene and the ambition of a film to feature a general strike for nerd’s rights. James Cromwell has another hilarious cameo appearance as an elderly nerd, which Robert Carradine has the focus thrust on himself as “a self-hating nerd”. The nerdiness of the characters is less often technical and more similar to a veiled point about minority rights. Sadly, it’s in the execution that Revenge of the Nerds 3 falls flat: None of the new nerds are as interesting as the senior generation; the production values of the film are limited and the quality of the writing just doesn’t support the premise: Everything is handled with a disgraceful lack of subtlety, especially the protagonist’s never-believable inner-conflict. This, like most third installments in comedy series, is really for the fans… but even they may be annoyed with the result. The DVD contains no special features of note.
(On DVD, February 2011) Considerably inferior sequel to 1984’s original Revenge of the Nerds, even though it’s quite a bit more assured in terms of budget and direction. This time, the action moves south to Florida for spring break, but the script becomes dumber in a hurry. If the first film was silly, this one is just stupid, and you can tell by the amount of time characters act like their own caricatures rather than real characters. None if it is meant to be taken seriously, but the laziness of the script is such that even lame gags (like a metal detector finding a buried… metal detector) look like genius among the rest. Much of the first half of the film is spent re-hashing the best moments of the first film, and while it’s fun to see Robert Carradine and friends laughing it up and James Cromwell return briefly as an unrepentant elder nerd, that’s not quite enough to make up for the rest of the picture. There is, at least, enough colourful mid-eighties fashion to look at whenever the rest of Revenge of the Nerds 2 fails. The DVD contains no special features of note.
(Second Viewing, On DVD, February 2011) The early-to-mid-eighties saw their share of college-set comedies, but few of them became part of popular culture. If Revenge of the Nerds is any exception, it’s probably because of its outright pro-nerd message: Nerds have the fortunate tendency to take over the world’s technical infrastructure, and so it’s no accident if the film would be fondly remembered during an era where the Internet has made intellectuals kind of admirable. (Nah, I kid: it’s all about the underdog, and everyone thinks they’re the underdog.) As a film, Revenge of the Nerds isn’t much to celebrate: everything about the production shows its age and low-budget origins and the direction is no better from countless other B-grade comedies. In terms of subject matter, however, the screenplay is clever enough to marry geekery with college debauchery and underdog plotting (sometimes coming a bit too close to trivializing the plight of other minorities): the result hasn’t aged well, but it has held up a lot better than other films of its era. There are even a few surprises in the casting, from John Goodman as a bullying coach, to James Cromwell as the protagonist Robert Carradine’s very-nerdy dad. Dramatically, the film falls a bit flat toward the end without a clear climax (the beginning of the third act seems tighter than its end), but with such an amiable film, who’s to nit-pick? Die-hard nerds may quibble at the questionable nerdiness of some of the members of Lambda Lambda Lambda (and their readiness to take up ordinary college antics), but that’s part of the film’s inclusiveness: Everybody’s a nerd now! The “Panty Raid Edition” DVD contains the kind of audio commentary track that reflects the good times the filmmakers had in making the film, as well as a few featurettes to reinforce the feeling. More amusingly, it also has a wretched sitcom pilot from the early nineties that shows everything that’s wrong with cheap scripted TV comedy.