Total Recall: Memorable Movie Nerds and Geeks

In honor of Comic-Con 2012, we run down some of cinema's greatest dorks, outcasts, brains, and obsessives.

Nerds and Geeks

Nerds! Geeks! For years, they bore the brunt of hostility from all the cool kids -- but now, in a turn of events that would have infuriated Fred "The Ogre" Palowakski, they are the cool kids, and this week they're celebrating their ascendance with the ultimate annual pilgrimage of nerddom and geekitude. Yes, friends, we're talking about Comic-Con, and in honor of the total geekout scheduled to take place in San Diego between tomorrow and Sunday, we decided to devote this week's list to some of our favorite nerd- and geek-dedicated films. Hike up those floodwaters, Poindexter, because it's time for Total Recall!

The 40 Year Old Virgin

85%

Judd Apatow and Steve Carell co-wrote the script for The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which gave Carell his long worked-for star-making role: action figure-collecting geek Andy Stitzer, whose quest to end his virginity sets up two hours of raunchy gags, Michael McDonald bashing, and inspired lunacy from Jane Lynch. $177 million in worldwide grosses later, Apatow and Carell were household names -- and "Kelly Clarkson!" was an acceptable epithet -- thanks in part to critical praise from writers like Paul Greenwood of Future Movies, who wrote, "It's a joy to be in the hands of filmmakers who intuitively know the difference between rude and crude, who know that horny and heartfelt can exist in tandem and that jokes about race and sexuality are not the same as racism and homophobia."

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Ghost World

93%

Perhaps you've noticed that when Hollywood wants to make a movie about nerds or geeks, they tend to focus on male characters. Not so Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World, a bleakly funny adaptation of the Daniel Clowes comic book about a pair of teenage misfits (Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch) whose casually mean-spirited prank on a lonely middle-aged man (Steve Buscemi) has unforeseen consequences on their friendship. A cult and critical favorite, Ghost World resonated with scribes like Angie Errigo of Empire, who wrote, "This is 'teen comedy' of startling sophistication -- with horribly funny bits as well. A true original, with sharp humour, subtle detail and painfully realistic characters."

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Hackers

34%

Boasting the tagline "Boot up or shut up! On line this fall," posters for 1995's Hackers promised slick, futuristic action -- and, as is so dreadfully often the case, delivered a muddled assortment of computer culture cliches and plot points whose wild implausibility indicated a complete misunderstanding of the way technology works. However unlikely the events of the storyline, some critics enjoyed this tale of teen computer whizzes (led by Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie) and their battle against a swindling security expert (Fisher Stevens) -- including Christopher Null of Filmcritic, who chuckled, "The real draw to Hackers is that it is so unexpectedly funny. Really funny. The comic scenes with the kids (and there are lots of them) are totally hilarious. The 'serious' scenes are too, because they are often so ridiculous."

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The Nutty Professor

86%

With all due respect to Eddie Murphy's very funny update, for this week's list we have to give the nod to the original Nutty Professor, because nobody nerds out quite like Jerry Lewis in his 1960s prime. Acting out a revenge fantasy for spurned nerds everywhere while delivering a brilliant dual performance, Lewis starred as the brilliant-yet-socially-inept scientist Julius F. Kelp and his suave, chemically induced alter ego, Buddy Love -- while also directing and co-writing the script. "Credit the effervescent Mr. Lewis for trying something different -- a comical character study, with an edge of pathos," urged A.H. Weiler of the New York Times. "The surprising, rather disturbing result is less of a showcase for a clown than the revelation (and not for the first time) of a superb actor."

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Pi

87%

Combining elements of Old Testament mysticism, psychological thriller, and noir, Darren Aronofsky's Pi marked his directorial debut with distinctive flair, plunging viewers into the intensely paranoid world of an unstable genius (Sean Gullette) whose fascination with numbers makes him the target of two shadowy groups -- one that wants to manipulate the stock market, and one that wants to fulfill Biblical prophecy. Unlike any other film on this list (or any other film anywhere, really), Pi entranced critics like TIME's Richard Corliss, who called Aronofsky "that rare indie filmmaker who doesn't want to make hip romantic sitcoms. He's a genuine experimenter with a spooky visual style."

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Comments

Fourteenyearold

Louie 098

The Nutty Professor =))

Jul 11 - 03:39 PM

Dennis Lainez

Dennis Lainez

Yes, this Nutty Professor..Not that horrible p.o.s. Eddie Murphy did

Jul 11 - 05:27 PM

sOkRiK

Adam Kirko

Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor was awesome!! Especially part 2.

Jul 12 - 06:56 PM

preciliano Beltran

preciliano Beltran

Only 3good movies

Jul 11 - 03:47 PM

Premo Beat

John Noto

Are you dull?

Jul 13 - 09:08 AM

Dave J

Dave J

"Sixteen Candles", "Kick Ass", "Road Trip", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" to name a few ...

Jul 11 - 03:52 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I guess it appears that this list is only contains nerds/ geeks in first starring roles!

Jul 11 - 04:11 PM

Jeffrey C.

Jeffrey Cooperhouse

Kick Ass could be considered as a starring role

Jul 12 - 08:37 AM

Dave J

Dave J

I'm going to add a few more possible nerd/geek suggestions- "Back To The Future", "Clark Kent" of Superman, "Tron", "Adventureland", "Superbad", "Indiana Jones", "October Sky", "The Fly", "Carrie", "She's All That", "Three Stooges Meets Hercules", "Harry Potter", "Blast From The Past" to name a few

Jul 12 - 12:29 PM

Sean P.

Sean Patrick

What about Donnie Darko?

Jul 13 - 05:48 AM

ecostar

Evan Lewis

you've got to be kidding me with this list. None of these pictures feature nerds as the central character of the story: "Back To The Future", "Clark Kent" of Superman, "Tron", "Adventureland", "Indiana Jones", "October Sky", "Carrie", "She's All That", "Three Stooges Meets Hercules", "Harry Potter". Social misfits and superheroes maybe but none have leading characters that are nerds.

Jul 13 - 07:07 AM

Dave J

Dave J

You don't know anything, I basically listed the films that fit the nerd/ geek discription above especially the ones you don't agree with, (If you seen the very first Superman movie) Clark Kent was a clumsy nerd, the Micheal J. Fox character may not be defined as a nerd but when he went back to the past- he discovered that his dad (Crispen Glover)was, in "Tron" Jeff Bridges played computer nerd which fits the criteria "ABOVE", "Adventureland" to some Jesse Eisenberg's character is a definition of a nerd since he's not physically fit nor is he physically attractive, "Indiana Jones"- archeleologist nerd who wears glasses and must always do the right thing, "October Sky" defined as rocket scientist nerds, "Carrie" and "She's All That" consist of female nerds because there is such thing, "Harry Potter" who is not physically fit and wears glasses being perceived as an underdog, defined as wizard nerd, and finally "Three Stooges Meets Hercules"- the four eyes who built the time machine was a nerd scientist until he became strong enough to become as strong as Hercules, another person that fits the criteria above, so what I'm suggesting is that you should use your damn 'brain' once in awhile for I highly doubt that you even saw all the movies I've listed!

Jul 13 - 11:58 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Well, the list focuses on nerds in lead roles, which is why Back to the Future doesn't really qualify. Also, I think you're using the nerd term very lightly. Just because they wear glasses does not make Harry Potter and Indiana Jones (who only wears them when he's a professor) nerds. Hermione is the only one of the three leads in the Harry Potter films whom I'd call a nerd. Harry meanwhile may be scrawny, but he's also really popular (unwanted popularity maybe, but popularity nonetheless), is portrayed as a leader, is captain of a sports team, is no brainiac or genius (in the books his grades are good not great), doesn't really devote that much time to studying and he doesn't take bullying lying down. Indiana Jones, meanwhile, well he's Indiana Jones. Is there anything else that needs to be said?

Jul 15 - 03:34 AM

Dave J

Dave J

"Just because they wear glasses does not make Harry Potter and Indiana Jones (who only wears them when he's a professor) nerds"

That's a matter of opinion!

Jul 16 - 11:43 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

no it isn't

Jul 16 - 12:25 PM

preciliano Beltran

preciliano Beltran

I ment on the list

Jul 12 - 01:43 PM

sOkRiK

Adam Kirko

Weird Science

Jul 12 - 06:58 PM

Lavinia

Lavinia Holton

What about Napoleon Dynamite?

Jul 11 - 04:11 PM

Dave J

Dave J

That's an excellent one that should've been on here!

Jul 11 - 04:19 PM

Flor D. Turra

Flor D. Turra

an overrated POC

Jul 13 - 08:27 AM

Julian Pollifrone

Julian Pollifrone

That would have been an obvious one for this list.

May 17 - 08:11 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I guess it appears that this list is only contains nerds/ geeks in first starring roles!

Jul 11 - 04:11 PM

Jeffrey C.

Jeffrey Cooperhouse

Kick Ass could be considered as a starring role

Jul 12 - 08:37 AM

Dave J

Dave J

That's an excellent one that should've been on here!

Jul 11 - 04:19 PM

Nick Fury

Nick Fury

You forgot about Dave Lizewski, Scott Pilgrim, Peter Parker, and Dr. Bruce Banner, brilliantly played by Mark Ruffalo.

Jul 11 - 04:40 PM

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

Scott Pilgrim's not a nerd. He's a hipster.

Jul 11 - 08:12 PM

Kevin Hullett

Kevin Hullett

Exactly.

Jul 11 - 10:26 PM

Kate Avery

Kate Avery

The list is movies about nerds, not movies that have nerds in them. If that were the case, the list would be never-ending. Anthony Michael Hall is the real nerd in Sixteen Candles (Molly Ringwald's character wasn't geeky, just invisible); Kick Ass can be better classified as a superhero or comic book movie; Ferris Bueller was, in fact, the opposite of a nerd and actually very cool (Cameron was a nerd, but he was not the central character). Scott Pilgrim, Peter Parker, and Bruce Banner were again all superheroes/comic book heroes and their movies are better classified as such. Napoleon Dynamite should've been included in the list. That is definitely a glaring omission. But maybe if you guys would spend less energy trying to find fault with all these lists, you might actually enjoy them more.

Jul 11 - 05:26 PM

Dennis Lainez

Dennis Lainez

Yes, this Nutty Professor..Not that horrible p.o.s. Eddie Murphy did

Jul 11 - 05:27 PM

sOkRiK

Adam Kirko

Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor was awesome!! Especially part 2.

Jul 12 - 06:56 PM

Matthew Hawthorne

Matthew Hawthorne

Are you kidding me, Weird Science, Real Genius, Revenge of the nerds, better off dead are all not on this list? Blasphemy!

Jul 11 - 05:35 PM

Andrew Edscorn

Andrew Edscorn

Hit the next button, they are all on the second page except for Better off Dead.

Jul 11 - 05:58 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

RT with their big, hard words like NEXT.

Jul 12 - 03:07 AM

Dan Casler

Dan Casler

George McFly by Crispin Glover.

Jul 11 - 05:37 PM

BLaCKWoLF

BLaCKWoLF .

Great mention.

Jul 12 - 04:56 AM

Andrew Edscorn

Andrew Edscorn

Hit the next button, they are all on the second page except for Better off Dead.

Jul 11 - 05:58 PM

SarfarazAbbasi

Sarfaraz Abbasi

The guy has got some good choices

Jul 11 - 07:02 PM

Tom C.

Tom Carter

And what about last year's comic geeks played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost last year in PAUL, part of which took PLACE at Comic-Con! Twice in the movie even!

Jul 11 - 07:06 PM

Mihir Oza

Mihir Oza

what about D.A.R.Y.L.

Jul 11 - 07:30 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

This isn't a list about Data Analyzing Robotic Youth Lifeforms.

Jul 12 - 10:47 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Well, it should be. Barret Oliver's greatest hits (and methods for Katie Holmes to rescue him from Sea Org).

Jul 13 - 08:27 AM

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