The Scoop: 1987 PG-13, directed by Joe Roth and starring Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong and Bradley Whitford
Tagline: “They’re Back!”
Summary Capsule: The nerds head down to Florida for a frat convention, only to find the Alpha Betas waiting for them with a score to settle.
Justin’s Rating: 1/2 original recipe, 1/2 New Coke
Justin’s Review: Getting a thumb on whether a comedy sequel is worth your time is pretty easy if you apply a few simple questions. Did it come out within three years of the previous film? Does it retain most of its original cast? Is it sticking to the formula that made it successful? Did it get a good dose of promotion? And does it have a kick-ass title?
Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise meets all of these criteria, even though time has all but erased it from the public consciousness. Heck, I don’t even know if most people today remember Revenge of the Nerds at all. Maybe back when MRFH started in 1997, but in 2013? The 80s are an oldies station and retro gear that the youths wear without understanding the decade at all. Anyway, before I go off on an old fogey rant, let’s just put it like this: Revenge of the Nerds II is surprisingly good for a sequel, although perhaps not so surprising considering that it does a lot right. While there are two more sequels to get through, this was the last with the bulk of its original cast, the last that had a theatrical release, and the last that took place in the 80s. It’s okay if you stop here, but as for me, I’m going to ride this express to the end of the line.
It’s been a year or so since the nerdy frat of Tri-Lambda at Adams College prevailed against the jock-centric Alpha Betas and won the respect of their peers. Now they’re off to sunny Florida, because you just can’t make a comedy in the 80s without Florida. It’s where neon dreams go to live forever. Actually, they’re going to Florida for a frat conference, although its a thinly veiled excuse to set up the exact same situation from the first film with more bikinis. I’m pretty OK with that; sequels that go too far off the beaten path get beaten down.
Once down there, the nerds discover that the Alpha Beta representatives are harboring a grudge and are out for a little revenge themselves. The Tri-Lambs get kicked out of their hotel, tricked into appearing in their underwear in front of strangers, and even abducted and banished to a tropical isle. But nerds are pretty resilient (if gullible) and make comeback after comeback with a little ingenuity, IQ, and thousands of dollars of DJ equipment that comes out of nowhere.
It’s hard to watch this movie without thinking of the Simpson parody where Homer is in college, befriends nerds, and then strong-arms them into the wacky hijinks that he’s come to expect from movies just like this one. Revenge of the Nerds II might be as stereotypical of a template for 80s comedy dynamics that you could connect all other films to it. There was an odd celebration of geek and nerd culture in that era as evidenced by how many movies featured these goonie underdogs as the main characters. Now nerds are celebrated and we rule the internet, so be nice to us or we’ll revoke your identity.
So it’s not too original, but is it entertaining? That largely depends on your fondness for 80s culture, your enjoyment of slapstick and unsubtle humor, and your appreciation of this goofy franchise. Me? Yeah, I still like it. I laughed a few times while rewatching it the other night (the rundown hotel manager stole every scene she was in, and Booger getting a mentor named Snotty was genius), and I was definitely grooving on all of the 80s vibes going on. But it certainly could’ve been better and made a lot better use of its Florida setting.
One odd omission is the presence of Anthony Edwards, who co-starred as Gilbert in the original. Edwards has a cameo at the beginning of the film where his character is shown with a broken leg and he laments not being able to go, which I thought was at least an effort to tell us why he wasn’t going to be in the rest of the movie. Except, he is. He has three scenes after that, and keeps coming back so many times that I honestly don’t know why the filmmakers didn’t just include him in the entourage. Maybe it was an effort to establish Lewis as the new leader of the nerds, I don’t know.
Anyway, I’m not going to ding Revenge of the Nerds II for a traditional, safe outing. As for the future sequels? You’ll have to see with me.
- 1987 laptops are hilariously chunky
- James Cromwell in a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it cameo
- Ogre urinates for a total of 1 minute, 45 seconds.
- Julia Montgomery refused to reprise her role as Betty because in the original script Betty is caught cheating on Lewis. Montgomery felt it betrayed the change in her character from the first film. Joe Roth offered to have the scene re-written but Montgomery still refused. She eventually returned for the following sequels. Lewis is shown packing a picture of Betty in the beginning of the film implying they are still together. Ironically, this means that Lewis cheated on Betty with Sunnie.
- Devo does the opening song!
Lamar: [showing ticket to flight attendant] We’re V.I.P.s
Stewardess: [directing] Right over there.
Booger: Very Immense Penises.
Harold Wormser: Hey, wait! I’m only 15. I’m just a kid!
Policemen: [showing Wormser his fake ID] That’s not what it says here, Senator Wormser!
Snotty: To truly hock a loogie, one must not retrieve the phlegm from the throat, but from the soul.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Revenge of the Nerds
- Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach
- Weekend at Bernie’s