There are a lot of assumptions that movie makers can make about their audience. During the summer, the assumption is that the sun has slam-danced the brain stuff to the point of oblivion, and what moviegoers want most is to simply leave the orb at home, safe and sound in some cool, shady place. Hence, the summer movie -- fast-moving, colorful and dumb. Above all else, dumb.
What you end up dealing with when assessing summer movies is degrees of dumb. Funny dumb. Smart dumb. Dumb dumb.
And that's what "Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise" is -- stupid dumb. This is a movie that doesn't just make you feel dumb, it makes you feel as if your head has been hollowed out and pumped full of Cheez Whiz.
"Revenge of the Nerds II," which was directed by Joe Roth, is a prime example of the diminished-capacity summer esthetic. It's essentially a retread of the first "Nerd" movie, with most of the original nerds -- Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong, Larry B. Scott, Timothy Busfield, Andrew Cassese -- showing up for a second go-round. (Anthony Edwards, who was Carradine's sidekick in the original, makes only what amounts to a cameo appearance.) This is all too, well, dumb to go into at any length, but the feebly uncool Tri-Lambs of Adams College are again pitted against the super-cool Alpha Betas, this time in Fort Lauderdale, at the annual meeting of the United Fraternity Conference. And what you'd expect to happen happens.
In short, the action can be summed up by saying: The nerds are put down for being nerdy. The nerds triumph. The End. And in between is the closest thing to a comedy desert I've ever seen. I'm talking no laughs. Nada. (Okay, one laugh, when one of the nerds -- Booger -- shows up wearing a T-shirt with "Who Farted?" on the front. But if that's the peak of your comedy pyramid, you're in big trouble.)
What this movie proves once and for all is that it is not -- and, for that matter, never was -- hip to be square. There's nothing to get really upset about here. In other words, I don't think it's dangerously dumb. It's sort of like an egg salad sandwich that's been left out in the sun for about eight hours. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with it. It's fine. Go ahead, eat it. I mean, I wouldn't, but go ahead. I'm sure you'll be okay. Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, at area theaters, is rated PG-13 and contains profanity and mildly suggestive material.