The Scoop: 1992 NR, directed by Roland Mesa and starring Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong and Julia Montgomery
Summary Capsule: The new nerds at Adams College come under a fresh attack while some old nerds are called back into service to defend them
Justin’s Rating: A 2.0 GPA
Justin’s Review: The early 90s were kind to the nerd-folk of the world, especially at Adams College. What once was a place full of antagonism and hatred toward nerds now has completely flipped to become a nerd paradise (they even replaced the gym with a science center). The Alpha Betas are neutered idiots to boot. And for new freshman Ira and Harold, they’re excited to walk in the same footsteps of the revered Tri-Lambdas, the most popular frat on campus.
Well, if things start good, there’s no place to go but down, right?
I have to admit that Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation starts on an interesting note. Completely inverting the old formula makes for a interesting setup, but it also makes it more difficult to create a situation in which the nerds will need revenge. This happens as the old dean retires and former Alpha Beta president Stanley Gable becomes the new dean. Overnight the persecution of nerds rises tenfold and the Tri-Lambs are the primary target. They appeal to Harold’s Uncle Lewis, a former member of the nerd frat, but he’s since become a yuppie and ashamed of his former nerd ways. It’s only through the intervention of a certain nose-picking lawyer and some can-do spirit on the behalf of the frat that things will ever get good again.
So let’s talk about what Revenge of the Nerds as a franchise should’ve done, which is to go the Police Academy route. Both film series started with a slightly risque R-rated romp that proved to be pretty popular. Then they both toned it down slightly for the sequel with a PG-13 rating and the return of most of the cast. But this is where paths diverge. Police Academy kept pumping out films quickly, keeping several of the cast members on board as long as possible (heck, Steve Guttenberg stayed for four movies) and managed six theatrical releases with a seventh gone straight-to-video. Despite the decline in quality, the series made money and seven films is not to be scoffed at. I think Revenge of the Nerds could have done the same, but for whatever reason the film execs waited too long or the actors declined an easy paycheck. So a half-decade passes between the second and third movie, and by that time only four original actors come back (apart for small cameos) for what ends up being a straight-to-video release. It makes it harder to swallow as a legitimate addition to the franchise overall.
But is it good entertainment at least? Moving on to the “next generation” (man, Star Trek really popularized that subtitle) could have worked had the new Tri-Lambs been, well, interesting in the least. Yeah, there are several one-note characters, but aside from Toyota, an Asian from the deep south, and a morbidly obese Scottish guy who talks in the most irritating voice of all time, you’re not going to remember any of them. And with Booger, Lewis, Stan, and Betty still hanging around, we’re not really sure which generation we should be watching. The film bounces back and forth between the two generations without really deciding which one should be the primary focus, and that’s a distracting factor.
I also wasn’t a big fan of the abrupt face-turn of Lewis’ character hating his nerd heritage — after all, that was the whole point of the first two movies, being proud of being a geek. It makes him come off as naive and reprehensible when he’s ignoring the nerd oppression in favor of getting chummy with Stan. Yes, sometimes you have to kick your hero to the gutter so that you can see him or her rise again, but there had to be a better way than this.
Happily, Booger is still Booger, and it makes perfect sense that he’s become a lawyer. It takes a while for him to enter the movie, but when it does, Revenge of the Nerds III gets vastly more interesting. I want to mention that I’m pretty amazed that Lewis’ love interest from the first movie is still with him, married, and faithful. That’s just not something you see that often; most comedy movies would create new love interests for each installment.
Still, you’re going to have to swallow really cheesy acting, horrible early 90s movie dialogue, and an overall dearth of actual humor. There’s a few humorous moments to be sure, a goofy appeal, and a slightly surprising ending, but it isn’t hard to pinpoint where Nerds went off the rails.
- Floppy discs — that’s high-tech!
- Oh, that 90s dialogue, how we love you. When’s the last time you heard the word “bodacious”?
- Nerds have the power to shut down entire cities based on a single radio address
- The music the Tri-Lambda doorbell plays is from Super Mario Bros. 3
- Anthony Edwards was busy shooting E.R. at the time to participate, so the character of Gilbert was reprised by Mike Greenwood
Bobo: The nerds gave me pimples!
Booger: You don’t eat meat! You don’t do drugs! What’s wrong with kids today?
Harold: Are you Japanese?
Steve Toyota: Heck, naw, boy. I’m Korean.
Harold: Why do you talk like that?
Steve Toyota: South Korean.
Booger: You’ve become the worst kind of nerd. A self-hating one. I remember when you were the George Washington of nerds. Now, you’re more like the Benedict Arnold!
Booger: No, no, no, call me Booger.
Harold: Certainly, Mr. Booger.
Booger: No, no, not Mr. Boo… Well, no, wait a minute… I kind of like that. Mr. Booger. It’s kind of distinguished.
Harold: Why are you dissing us? We never did anything to harm you!
The Dean: Me? Use a computer?
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