Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome back to Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review, the exclusive Scene Before review series of all the movies in the “Revenge of the Nerds” franchise! So far we have talked about the first movie, which was good, and the second movie, which was the opposite of good. Today we are going to talk about the third installment to the franchise, which compared to the first two entries, does not get as much attention. After all, this third film is the first of the bunch to be released straight to television. Does this small screen comedy pack in enough charm to match the original? Let’s find out!
“Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation” is directed by Roland Mesa and stars Robert Carradine (The Cowboys, The Big Red One), Curtis Armstrong (Better Off Dead, Risky Business), Ted McGinley (Married with Children, The Love Boat), Julia Montgomery (One Life to Live, The Kindred), Gregg Binkley, Richard Israel, and Morton Downey Jr. (The Morton Downey Jr. Show, Predator 2) in the third installment to the “Revenge of the Nerds” franchise. Years after the Tri-Lambs brought nerd justice to Adams College, a new generation of nerds and jocks rival each other to reign supreme. This time around, one nerd in particular is Harold Skolnick, the nephew of Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine), who has been deemed the “George Washington of nerds.” Meanwhile, the Alpha Betas have a new plan to achieve superiority. Also, former Alpha Beta Stan Gable (Ted McGinley) has been placed as Dean of Students.
I said it before, I’ll say it again. “Revenge of the Nerds,” regardless of its quality, is a film franchise that I always wanted to talk about because of how much it has meant to me from a cultural perspective. This meant that I got to talk about the first installment, which has become one of my most rewatched comedies in recent years. In addition, this also meant I had to talk about “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise,” which deservedly stands at a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes as of writing this. The interesting thing about that film is despite the negative press it got, it actually did well at the box office, making thrice its budget. Was another sequel bound to come? Well, not right away.
Turns out this third movie went straight to television. Now, if I were an executive behind 20th Century Fox, I could see why this would be put on television. It’s been a few years since the last film, despite box office success the last film was not too great, and as we saw in the final product, some of the original cast did not return. But there seems to be a common consensus on a film that goes straight to television compared to one that releases theatrically. A film that has a television release has less value right out of the gate compared to one that has a cinema release. After all, television does not usually have as big of a screen, therefore the filmmakers do not have to go as big.
…And that’s what “Revenge of the Nerds III” feels like as a result. Watered down, uninteresting, and almost as if there was no plot.
The basic concept is similar to the first movie, where kids go to college, they hope to have a fine year ahead of them, and maybe win some girls along the way. Of course, there’s the jock and nerd rivalry. But I feel like the first film did a much better job at establishing that rivalry. The Alpha Betas invade the freshman dorm and take it for themselves. This affects our main characters and how the rest of the film plays out. In this third film, even though it does have its share of causes and effects, it starts off with the jocks discriminating nerds just *because* of their status. I like the first film better because in that film, when the jocks take over the freshman dorm, they at least had a reason to. Their house burned down and they needed a place to stay. As much as I do not stand by the jocks in the first film, you could at least feel bad for them in one moment of the runtime. The rivalry in this film is basically “Here’s jocks, here’s nerds, happy?”
No! I want dimension! This is a completely one-dimensional rivalry that really only exists because it technically plays off of what other movies built.
I’ll be honest, as much as I did not absolutely hate the new jocks and nerds in this film, they did not have the same personality or memorability as the jocks and nerds in the first film. I do like the jock dad, played by Morton Downey Jr., he’s got this weird swagger to him that feels like I’m watching a showoff bowler or golfer or something. The sunglasses really capture his persona well.
The main duo in the film are fairly likable, but they’re almost copypastes of Lewis and Gilbert from the first film. There does not feel like there’s much that is new about these two other than their names and slight personality differences. And honestly, the supporting nerds, while they are different from the ones in the first films, I think the stereotypes in this film if you want to put it that way, are not as well executed. This is most notable, personally, from John Pinette as Trevor Gulf, who in case you REALLY cannot tell, is British. I don’t mind the nerd being British, but I feel like this movie does way too much to embellish that this nerd is British. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being an ass, these supporting nerds for the most part do not have the staying power in my mind that nerds like Lamar and Wormser did. I do like the South Korean nerd, Steve Toyota. He’s got this suave outlook to him that actor Henry Cho did an excellent job at encapsulating.
Now some of the original nerds make a return in this movie too including Booger (Curtis Armstrong) and Lewis (Robert Carradine). In this film, Booger has apparently become a lawyer. Which… Okay. That’s an interesting outcome for such a character. Out of all the characters that could have become a lawyer, Booger did not seem like the one who would do that. Then again, out of everyone of the first film’s Tri-Lambs, I do see Booger as the least tech savvy of the bunch, so I could see this more than him being a computer programmer or someone of that sort, but still. I do think Armstrong gives the best performance in this film, because his character is written in such a way that harkens back to how his character behaved in the first two films. He was fun, but also a bit of a creep at the same time, and Armstrong continues to embrace these qualities of the character.
Speaking of returning nerds, Robert Carradine is back as Lewis, or as he’s known this time, Lew. He dons a ponytail, he’s got a different swagger to him, he’s married to Betty Childs, and there’s something’s missing about him. He’s ashamed of who he once was. For some reason, Lewis is ashamed of being a Tri-Lamb and a nerd. He even mentions that he wanted to once be an Alpha Beta. I like Lewis from the first movie despite that one controversial scene with him. He was at least a likable character. The same can be said for the second movie even though he cheated on his girlfriend. Watching Lewis in this film kind of reminded me of how some people reacted to seeing Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It’s almost like Lewis does not care about his origins. These are origins that made him who he is. He proved that losers are the true winners, and somehow he wants to forget about it. I know that the desire to cool can trump the desire to drool. However, this plot point, based on what we’ve seen from Lewis in the past couple films, feels tacked on and forced. It doesn’t feel like it matches him. Out of everyone in the Tri-Lambs, I would have expected something like this from Booger! Heck, I even think Wormser would want this more than Lewis!
Also, Stan Gable is back. This time around he is the Dean of Students at Adams College. I kind of like the dynamic between him and Lewis in this film. As much as I was not a fan of how they handled Lewis in this film in terms of him becoming a cool dude, I do like how Lewis looks at his years at Adams College with Stan and laughs. He just thinks of their nerd and jock rivalry as random college shenanigans at this point. Although at the same time, Gable is trying to win back Betty, who Lewis stole from him in those college years.
If there’s anything else I do like, it’s that Adams College has become a haven for nerdkind since the Tri-Lambs did what they did all those years ago. They had a gym, but since then it has become a computer science center for example. Lewis is the chair of the computer science department, while Betty is now an art professor on campus. A lot has changed in just a number of years. In that sort of way, I do like how the campus has evolved. It’s a good way to show that nerds have taken over in a way. Other than that, I think the only other positive I can come up with is that the courtroom segment has one or two fun moments in it. Not much else to suggest from here.
In the end, “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation” is a hard film to judge, because on its surface, it truly is a barely watchable feature, but it was made for television, therefore it is not held to as high of a standard. So as far as a made for television “Revenge of the Nerds” film goes, this could be worse. There are some things I liked about it. But I think if they released this theatrically, this would not have done as well unless it was heavily marketed. A lot of the jokes are forgettable, it’s not as raunchy as the first film, the dialogue is not that great, and lot of the characters feel flat, nerds and jocks alike. I love the first “Revenge of the Nerds,” I just wish this third film had the same charm. I’m going to give “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation” a 4/10.
“Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation” is available on VHS and DVD. You can also rent or buy it on various VOD services.
Thanks for reading this review! Next week we are going to tackle the fourth and most recent installment to the franchise, “Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love.” As of writing this review, I remember this film honestly being the worst of the bunch. Will it stay that way? Find out on Monday, August 30th in the final installment of “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review!” Also be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Don’t Breathe 2,” the recent horror sequel starring Stephan Lang. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation?” What did you think about it? Or, if you went to college, tell me about your time there! Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!