Memory Lane: Revenge of the Nerds
As the years go by and memories fade, all that is left are artifacts and keepsakes that rattle the brain enough to conjure up emotions.
Then you remember “Revenge of the Nerds,” a hit movie filmed at the University of Arizona. The movie ranks in the top 100 all-time comedies, according to Bravo, and hosts a score of 71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It is as classic of a slap-stick comedy as they come.
The premise of the movie was simple: A couple geeky freshman bearing their pocket protectors and thick-lensed glasses, Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowell, travel to Adams College to begin their collegiate careers. As it goes, the Adams football team, the Atoms, of whom most belong to the fraternity Alpha Beta, burn their house down at a party and force the freshman who live in Cochise Hall to move into a gym temporarily. The burned-down house is what stands as the current Beta Theta Pi house off of University.
The freshman relocate temporarily to a gymnasium, you know it as Bear Down Gym. After a series of attempts to join a fraternity, several of the nerds are hazed and shamed, only to join together and form the Lamda Lamda Lamda fraternity, otherwise known as the Tri-Lambs. The nerds are diverse and play up to the stereotype of taking down the man. Of course, it is a movie based on pranks and subsequent conquering of the Alpha Betas in the name of equality, a truly uplifting movie “Animal House” style. However, it is their battles with the Greek council that make the nuances of this movie legendary, well that and their location here at Arizona.
The Tri-Lambs lived at 931 N. Fifth Ave., now known as the Chapel of Awareness, which hosts monthly meetings of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Quite the turnaround for a site that was depicted for crazy parties featuring weed and Michael Jackson music in the film.
Their former home, Bear Down Gym, is now a resource center. It used to be a 300-seat, multi-purpose arena and home to the men’s basketball team (women didn’t have an official NCAA team until 1972-73) until 1973, when McKale Center was built. Currently, the gym is host to the Office of International Admissions, Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science Academic Advising Center and the Think Tank. It is no longer a cot-filled gym filled with the campus’ intelectually excelling but socially undesired. Plans to renovate and re-institute the gym are in the works, expected to become the Bear Down Success District as of now.
Arizona Stadium, home to the Adams Atoms football team, has been renovated in some areas, like the Lowell-Stevens Facility, and more renovations are expected in the next two years. In one of the more hilarious scenes in the movie, the nerds steal liquid heat and pour it all over the jocks of the football players before they had practice. It has not been determined if jock sharing was, in fact, a thing back then as indicated in the movie. Nevertheless, a giant pile of jocks is sitting in the former football locker room located in McKale Center, doused in liquid heat, and in the next scene the football players run off the field in excruciating pain back to the locker room. As a side note, if you’ve ever seen Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez give a post-game victory speech, it sounds a lot like John Goodman’s character as head coach of the Atoms.
The entrance off University Bouelvard toward Old Main was also replaced during the film to say Adams College. A lot of schools have been involved in Hollywood, such as “Road Trip,” “Old School” and “Accepted,” but few are as iconic as “Revenge of the Nerds,” a true classic like the school it was filmed on.
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