The original Revenge of the Nerds took a very funny title and a tried-and-true comic formula (vengeance) and became the surprise hit of the summer of 1984. It had its genuinely mirthful moments, in large part because the two head nerds were played with some inspiration by Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards.
A sequel was inevitable, and so was the return to formula. In Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, once again the geeks are abused and tormented, until they must slip their pocket protectors in place and turn the tables on the evil jocks at the Alpha Beta fraternity. In this session, Carradine is back as the grandmaster nerd, leading his nearsighted brethren. Edwards, however, has enjoyed a healthy career upswing and is less nerdy now. Thus he appears in just a couple of scenes (a broken leg explains his absence from the action).
As the subtitle suggests, our heroes are on vacation in Fort Lauderdale for a convention of fraternities. Things are bleak from the outset, however. The mean hotel manager (Ed Lauter) announces: “I don’t want nerds in my hotel!” So the pencil-necked geeks end up in a fleabag, where there are no computers to repair or cute girls to repulse.
The movie ping-pongs between the humiliations of the nerds and their vengeful plotting. There are a few funny scenes, especially the nerds’ rap party, where they mutate into something like the Beastie Nerds; and a sequence that has Edwards, dressed like Obi-Wan Kenobi, appearing to a dispirited Carradine in a dream. His sage advice? “Stop acting like a wienie!”
But for the most part, Nerds II remains only slightly superior to your average teen gross-out movie (director Joe Roth also produced the similar Bachelor Party). Many of the good gags are repeats from the first film, such as the overuse of Carradine’s donkey laugh. There’s a heavy emphasis on bodily-function jokes, nose-picking, and bikini jiggle.
The most disgusting nerd, Booger (Curtis Armstrong, now a regular on TV’s “Moonlighting”), is back with his usual habits. Characteristic of his behavior, and the movie’s high point of blecch, is a belching duel he has with an inexplicable Asian man (James Hong). Nerdhood, reassuringly, know no ethnic boundaries.
First published in the Herald, July 1987
Beyond the fond recollection that Orson Welles recorded the voiceover for the first Nerds movie, I got nothing. It seems Anthony Edwards deserves credit for being a good sport.