Valentine tribute to Gilbert

It`s February, and as thoughts turn to mid-winter romance, you can`t help thinking about how it`s shown in the movies( at least that`s true if one is obsessed with movies).  Many will cite their favorite films in this genre:  vintage stuff  like Casablanca, or more recent fare  such as 50 First Dates.  Since I`ve been hopelessly different all my life, I have to admit that thinking “love story” leads to another fond viewing of  Revenge of the Nerds(1984).   As we all know, it`s  a classic film anyway, combining elements of action, raunchy comedy, drama, and yes, romance.

This is largely due to the presence of Anthony Edwards as Gilbert Lowell, one of the flick`s main characters.  Not that I`m putting down the other male leads- far from it, we`ve got quite a diverse group here.  There`s Robert Carradine as Gilbert`s best friend Lewis Skolnick-he`s smart and funny, and it`s empowering that  though he starts out in a state of  naivety, he seduces(and wins the heart of ) gorgeous cheerleader Betty Childs.  There`s Larry B. Scott as Lamar. Scott  takes a role that`s written in a very cariacatured way and adds charm and style, creating a positive gay character at a time when gays were invisible in teen movies. And Curtis Armstrong has become beloved as Booger, the party-minded slob who`s always got your back-who wouldn`t want a friend like him?

But for me and many others, it`s Gilbert who makes love live in this film.  He`s a kind, sensible person whose eagerness to succeed at Adams College is touching in its earnestness.  Though he seems to think far more about academics than  girl-crazy Lewis, he`s the one who gets a date first, with awkward but charming Judy(Michelle Meyrink).   And no wonder, as he offers to carry her accordion across campus  in a true  display  of chivalry.  The first time  I watched this scene, I was blown away, since the guys I encountered in high school wouldn`t even tote your watch and considered  a keg party followed by parking a romantic night out.   It`s clear that Gilbert is a very special guy.  He`s extremely polite, considerate, and always nice to Judy.  Throughout the movie, he treats her as an equal, respecting her musical talents as a complement to his science/computer skills.  It`s unfortunate that so many young women pass on real-life  Gilberts, preferring uber-jocks and responsibility-dodging bad boys.

So watch  ROTN again( my guy and I view it at least twice a year) with a special emphasis on the  characters and their girls, especially Gilbert.  He`s best known for his stirring “I`m a nerd”  speech at the film`s end, and that is undeniably a great scene.   But it`s also fun to watch a true romantic lead in action, one that is more easily identified with than many of the over-pretty, plastic looking people in movies today.  Happy V-Day, Anthony Edwards- you created a classic with this role!

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