Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the second part of the ongoing Scene Before review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review!” In honor of Scene Before’s fifth anniversary, we are looking back at a few notable movies that I have not had a chance to talk about, and the “Revenge of the Nerds” franchise has been one of those properties that I would try to find an excuse to talk about because in a way it’s been a part of my life. With that being said, it is time to talk about the franchise’s second installment and most recent theatrical release, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise!” Will this movie deliver paradise? Let’s find out!
“Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” is directed by Joe Roth (Streets of Gold) and stars Robert Carradine (The Cowboys, The Big Red One) and Anthony Edwards (Top Gun, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) in the sequel to the 1984 sex comedy “Revenge of the Nerds” and follows the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity, who as seen in the first movie, gave a voice to outsiders against cool kids and jocks. In this film, they fly down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a national fraternity convention. All seems well until they are kicked out of their hotel, reunite with the Alpha Betas, and have to prove that they have a place in the convention.
The first “Revenge of the Nerds” is special to me, because as a nerd myself, as someone who has often found himself as an outsider in a number of situations, I related to the characters and I feel as if it is one of those films that made people like me cool. Sure, there’s that one scene with Robert Carradine and Julia Montgomery having sex that is a little controversial, but at the same time, there are a lot of positives when it comes to the film, and it inspired one of my favorite shows, “King of the Nerds,” a reality competition that lasted for three seasons on TBS. Simply put, if that first film did not exist, my life would be a lot different today in terms of my social circles and who I hang out with, so regardless of the first film’s quality, I owe a lot to that film for giving me the life I have today.
I really enjoyed this first film, which seemed to have a formula that was pleasing for what it was. So naturally a sequel had to be good, right?
Let’s start with the good. The film does genuinely have its moments. There are a couple funny lines here and there, especially from Booger. After all, as I mentioned in my previous review, Booger was one of the highlights of the first film because despite residing with the Tri-Lambs, he definitely had an aura of coolness to him. In this film, he’s perverted, crazy, and hyper. Not every line from him lands, but Curtis Armstrong gives one of the better performances in the film and he goes all the way with his character. Although at the same time, I was not a massive fan of the film’s subplot where apparently Booger spends some time with an older, more wrinkly version of himself named Snotty.
As for other positives, the song that plays as the nerds head to their hotel, 38 Special’s “Back to Paradise,” is a fitting song for the film in addition to being a genuinely catchy tune. I still have glimmers of the song in my head after watching this film. In fact, prior to my most recent viewing which I did specifically to have enough to talk about in this review, I would occasionally have this song pop into my head despite not watching the film since 2017. The film’s cast of characters is genuinely likable all around. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end.
This film is a genuinely forgettable, underwhelming, and disappointing time that comes off more as a chance to capitalize on the “Revenge of the Nerds” name as opposed actually providing a quality product. The first “Revenge of the Nerds” film is a raunchy, naughty, R-rated sex comedy with adult aspects such as nudity, intercourse (even though it is implied), and a fair share of foul language. PG-13 was barely a concept in 1984. In fact it was first introduced the same month “Revenge of the Nerds” came out. But I feel like within the multi-year stretch that it took to get “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise,” there must have been a serious intention from someone to focus on getting as many extra dollars as possible by having a rating that would make teens more likely to come in. With a PG-13 rating, whether it may have been intentional or not, this means there is significantly less of the “fun” material that made the 1984 sex comedy what it is. The film is not Shakespeare, but it knows what it is. It’s over the top, it’s crazy, and inappropriate for children.
As of writing this, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” has a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. And rightfully so. This film provides nowhere near the level of satisfaction that the first one can provide. I feel like some of the film’s plot points were forced just to move things along. There’s a whole thing where the manager of a hotel did not want the nerds staying there simply because they were nerds. I know that was a reason why the jocks had a rivalry in the first film, but the way they go about this just felt tacked on and unrealistic. In fact, speaking of unrealistic, there is a scene in this film where the nerds run into Ogre, a jock who also made an appearance in the first movie. Now I get that they are on opposite sides, but the way the nerds react in this exact moment felt like something out of a Disney channel original Halloween movie. I guess the scene could be worse, but it felt weird nevertheless.
I will also add that Anthony Edwards’s character of Gilbert, who was one of the two main guys in the first film, barely made an appearance in this sequel. Now, he is in it. But he cannot go to Fort Lauderdale because he’s got broken bones. It’s a weird change of pace seeing one of the characters who was arguably a large part of the original film’s heart and soul alongside Robert Carradine’s Lewis have a role as small as the one he has. In fact part of why we barely see Gilbert at all is because Anthony Edwards was not a fan of the script, and then they ended up writing a shorter role for him. It ended up resembling something he could film very quickly.
And he’s not alone, because Julia Montgomery, who played Betty Childs in the first film is also not in this one. The only time we see her is through a picture taken of her during the first few minutes when Lewis is packing for his trip. Much like Edwards, Montgomery was not a fan of the script either, therefore her character was written out entirely. The script had Childs, who by the end of the original film, was in love with Lewis, cheating on him with another guy. I actually would have been curious to see where this plot goes. Whether such a motivation actually falls in line with her character is a mystery, but given how Lewis is spending much of this movie trying to impress a woman in Florida, it would have been fascinating to see Lewis and Betty, two lovers, cheat on each other, how they would go about their separate situations, and if these situations were ever revealed to one another. Noting this, as much as I like Robert Carradine as an actor, and even though I can relate to Lewis in ways, these past two movies have select moments that kind of make him look like an asshole. In the first film, to get with Betty, he rapes her, technically speaking. As for this sequel, he decides to cheat on her, even though it is never embellished too much, while on his trip.
The way that “Revenge of the Nerds” seems to have progressed in just a couple of movies kind of feels like the “Fast & Furious” or “Kingsman” franchise. Why? Because earlier in these franchises, as I watched them, I enjoyed those movies for being a bit crazy, even when it causes me to suspend my disbelief. But as we get into this sequel, which by the end, dials its bonkers nature up to an 11, my suspension of disbelief could only go so high and this affected how much I could enjoy this film by the end of it. If you guys remember my review for “F9: The Fast Saga,” one of the big reasons why I gave that film such a low score is because of how over the top it gets, and I do not mean that in a good way. “Revenge of the Nerds II” kind of falls in the same boat. While the first film has its moments where things happen there that are less likely to happen in reality, this sequel goes bigger and ultimately becomes a tad dumber. And it’s really weird to say that because again, this is a PG-13 movie, which technically speaking, neuters the “Revenge of the Nerds” name.
The other negative I will bring to the table is this. I feel like this movie expects the viewer to watch the first movie and get attached to the characters from said movie, and therefore use that attachment to have them enjoy the second movie. Having watched “Revenge of the Nerds II,” I feel like we do not get to see the nerds be themselves. Sure, the point of these movies is kind of to suggest that nerds can do things that do not always involve staying in front of a computer. Sometimes they can party, sometimes they can be brave. But going back to what I said about certain plot points in this film feeling forced, one of my critiques of the film is that the nerds’ opposition with the manager at their hotel feels like it barely has a reason to exist. The opposition between these two feels surface level if anything, and I’ll also add, despite this movie being a “Revenge of the Nerds” installment, I feel like the “nerd” portion of a lot of these characters have disappeared for the most part. The movie places them in a nerdy box just because it can. I bought into the rivalry between the jocks and nerds in the first film, even when the jocks did things to flat out ruin the nerds’ time in college just based on their status partially because the jocks felt natural as characters and also because of John Goodman’s insanely iconic performance as Coach Harris as he gave some orders to the jocks.
If I had to give a positive note, I would say that this movie feels consistent with the first one in a way, because I said the first film felt like a parody on how society treats minorities. And when you consider ideas like the rivalry between the nerds and the hotel manager, there is a slight sense of consistency between movies. I just wish I were able to buy into whatever this movie’s selling me a little bit more.
In the end, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” is an inferior sequel to the 1984 cult classic. If anything the film fails to understand what made the first movie so special. “Revenge of the Nerds II” sometimes feels rushed, like we’re just skimming through random plot points just to get somewhere else, and nothing more than an obvious cash grab. Yes, the film does feel a bit similar to the original, especially with the nerds trying to party, find girls, get laid, that sort of thing, but it does not have that same exact raunchiness that the original tried to deliver. And if anything, part of me cannot blame the actors. They were given a crappy script that some cast members refused in a way or another. Anthony Edwards was barely in the movie. Julia Montgomery was not in the movie at all. In fact, according to Curtis Armstrong, the man who plays Booger, 20th Century Fox did everything they could, almost in a way that imitates the rivalry between the jocks and nerds in the film, to hide the first “Revenge of the Nerds” when it came out. But it was a huge success. So what about this sequel, you might ask? How did it come about? Well, here’s a quote from Curtis Armstrong’s memoir, “Revenge of the Nerd.”
“Despite everything, by the time we finished filming that spring we’d felt like we’d accomplished something. But 20th Century Fox, now under a new regime far less accommodating to movies like Revenge of the Nerds, begged to disagree and did everything it could to bury the picture. Ultimately, it became a case of life imitating art, as the jocks at the studio tried to destroy the little underdog nerd movie and failed completely. It made money. Quite a lot of money. They instituted a studio-wide embargo against any sequels at 20th Century Fox, which was lifted under a different administration three years later. The first sequel to be green-lighted at that point was Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.” –Curtis Armstrong, “Revenge of the Nerd,” pg. 183
As much as I am happy that the first movie was a huge success, the final result of “Revenge of the Nerds II” goes to show that not all sequels can work through name recognition alone. Then again, what do I know? The film ended up making over $30 million on a $10 million budget. I’m glad people are getting paid. People have to eat. I just wish we got a better movie. I’m going to give “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” a 4/10.
“Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” is available wherever you buy movies digitally including Apple TV, Vudu, and Google Play. The film is also currently available to watch on Cinemax as of writing this. Physically, the film is available on DVD and VHS.
Thanks for reading this review! Next week I will be reviewing “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation.” The franchise’s first straight to television feature. I have watched the film a few years back, but I am curious to see how it holds up as of today. This upcoming review, along with my current review, is being done in honor of Scene Before’s fifth anniversary, in a little series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” I will also be reviewing “Free Guy” sometime this week, so stay tuned for that as well! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise?” What did you think about it? Or, have you ever been to Fort Lauderdale, Florida? Do you live there? Tell me about your time in the area! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!