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!