NEW GUY, THE
Dizzy (D J Qualls) is Rocky Creek High's resident freak. He looks like a stick insect, wears polyester, attracts abuse like a magnet, and plays in a garage funk band with nerdy friends Nora (Zooey Deschanel), Kirk (Jerod Mixon) and Glen (Parry Shen). Things go from bad to worse when Dizzy is involved in an embarrassing genitalia-related accident with a geriatric librarian and wakes up in prison. Dizzy's cellmate Luther (Eddie Griffin), is an ex-geek turned badass, and he gives the young poindexter valuable lessons in the art of reinvention. Dizzy thus enrols as new guy "Gil" at Eastland High with frosted tips, new threads and a swanky new attitude. Empowered, he manages to improve the fortunes of the fading football team and win the heart of its hottest cheerleader (Eliza Dushku).
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Remember Revenge of the Nerds? Well, The New Guy is the same movie starring just
one nerd. But what a nerd! The casting of string-bean skinny DJ Qualls – who got it on with a big hoochie momma in Road Trip - is about the most inspired thing about The New Guy. So often we get a hip actor who goes from zero to hero in these teen movies, just as David Spade did in Joe Dirt and Adam Sandler does is every one of his movies. Qualls, however, is actually a truly goofy stick-insect who looks like his DNA has been spliced from Mr Bean, Pee-Wee Herman and Earnest into one awkward glob. Yet even Qualls's goofball likeability can't rescue this idiotic high school farce. It's meant to be about how a high school freak can turn the popularity system on its head, but The New Guy simply rolls out the toilet-humour and regurgitates the teen comedy clichés so often that it shouldn't be allowed to use the word ‘New’ in its title. It's funny if you enjoy the dumb antics of busty cheerleaders, burly football jocks, constipated teachers, touchy-feely school counsellors (Illeana Douglas), nerds getting stuffed in lockers or having their butt-hair singed off, and tuba-playing midgets being stuffed in trash cans and rolled down hills. Hey, who doesn't like that? The plot is completely scatter-logical - I still don't know how Dizzy ends up in prison. But I did like the bizarre visual references to Braveheart and Patton, and the in-joke cameos by Tony Hawk, Jerry O'Connell, Henry Rawlins, Gene Simmons, Vanilla Ice and Tommy Lee - who tries to crash a Creed concert. Whoever made this movie certainly has rock star connections. This helps make The New Guy a good hearted revenge of the nerd teen movie that's as individual as its toothpick star. And you've gotta love the casting of Lyle Lovett as his look-alike dad whose face is set on fire. So The New Guy has heart. If it only had a brain.
Review by Paul Kalina:
Re-hashing in one innocuous package just about every idea, joke and cliché of any high-school/teen/losin’ it/revenge film of the past decade comes The New Guy. Directed by Ed Decter, one of four credited writers on There’s Something About Mary, it follows a similar template to many Farrelly Brothers films — dweeb is transformed into a mensch, only to embrace those very qualities that made him an outsider in the first place. The problem here, apart from this looking like it was shot on out-of-date film stock, is the flimsiness of the tissue-thin conceits and the vagueness with which the characters and their trials are sketched. Like Dizzy, Danielle has transformed herself from geek to babe. But by the end of this film, it’s not entirely clear if we’re meant to applaud the flat-chested Danielle and the gangly misfit Dizzy or their latter incarnations as the curvaceous cheer-squad girl and the Brad Pitt-quaffed cool dude Gil. At the beginning, Luther, talking straight to camera, reveals his Professor Higgins-like plan to make-over the pasty Dizzy into a swaggering, sexually-aggressive James Brown. Luther vanishes, only to reappear in the film’s final moment to lend some tokenistic cred to Dizzy’s garage band’s rendition of “Play some funky music”. What jars is not so much that this is done without even a hint of irony or reflection, but that the initial idea seems to have completely vanished from the landscape of the film. There’s a potentially subversive theme lurking beneath the surface in the suggestion that the difference between outlaws and normal folks is the bluff, swagger and attitude with which the former make themselves appealing to the latter. What’s more, the ploy seems to have worked very nicely indeed in Dizzy’s transformation to Gil. But like so many other ideas in this film, it’s freely discarded. What remains in this lame film are a handful of MTV cameos (Tommy Lee, Gene Simmons, Vanilla Ice) and some so-so movie in-jokes, none of which reward the viewer for the lack of pay-offs elsewhere in the film. Dushku, virtually reprising her role in Bring It On, and Qualls deserve better material than this, their lack of sexual chemistry a sadly missed opportunity that sells the teen genre short.
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NEW GUY, THE (M)
CAST: DJ Qualls, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Griffin, Eliza Dushku
PRODUCER: Mark Ciardi, Todd Garner, Gordon Gray
DIRECTOR: Ed Decter
SCRIPT: David Kendall
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael D. O'Shea
EDITOR: David Rennie
MUSIC: Nick Glennie-Smith
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dina Lipton
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col Tristar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 8, 2002