20th Century Fox made so much off of Return of the Jedi that they were looking for a tax write-off, so they paid for the entirety of a film with little faith behind it: Revenge of the Nerds. They didn’t really expect this movie to do much since it was lumped in with the big number of gross-out movies that were coming out around this time. The funny thing is that Revenge of the Nerds kind of touched a nerve with a lot of people and went on to do more than anyone had thought. It wasn’t an instant blockbuster really since it didn’t get much more than a smattering of attention and great reviews, and it’s even been criticized since then when it comes to matters of how the more sexual aspects were used back then, but Revenge of the Nerds was more or less a humanistic film that allowed people to relate to the characters and really get into the story line since it was all too real and mirrored what went on in real life.
It’s also considered to be an entirely male-dominated cast that focuses on men only and uses women as just another part of the plot line. There’s even a moment in which consensual date rape is considered to be used, when Lewis fools Betty into thinking that he’s Stan. Then there’s the pantie raid at the Pi sorority house where there was full frontal nudity. It was pretty much thought that something like this couldn’t possibly survive in today’s cinema. And on that note I’d like to point out that sexuality in films is now miles beyond what’s going on in this film.
That being said this movie has become a timeless classic since the people that put their hearts into it and made it something unique and special. The Return of the Jedi might have been big enough to need a tax write-off but this was so much bigger than anyone would have thought that it became a cult classic without much effort. It’s a film that people can feel, that they can identify with even now, and it’s a great lesson in cinema about underestimating the little folks that stand out because they’re different. I’ve got a great idea at this point, we could start showing Revenge of the Nerds to teenagers, with adult supervision and with permission slips of course since there’s (gasp) nudity and foul language, to let them know what it means to be the outcast and the downtrodden. It’d be a lot better than the self-help DVD’s that currently exist and it would be a lot more fun to go through.
Somehow in this current environment I don’t think that Revenge of the Nerds would fare as well without intense criticism unfortunately, as that seems to be the norm in our society any longer. But this film was released in a simpler time when the problems we look for and seek to out today, some legitimate and some fabricated beyond belief, weren’t quite as much of a hassle.