Well, my friends, summer is here. How do I know? The season of marrow-less action flicks and crackpot comedies is rearing its shallow head. And as a great lover of films that require little more from their audience than slight breathing and a pulseĖI canít wait! The New Guy, the first of this summerís mindless marvels, although moderately funny, will not sit on one of my pedestals come summerís end.
At Eastland High School, the new guy, fresh from the jail, is Mr. Popularity. His name is Gil Harris (Qualls), and his tough walk and mysterious talk have earned him the adoration of the girls and the admiration of the guys. One girl in particular, sexy cheerleader Danielle (Dushku), even trades in her old beau for the new one. Yes, the adolescent society at Eastland High is Gilís to command.
But Gil has a secret. In the not so distant past, at neighboring Rocky Creek High School, Gil was known as Dizzy Harris. And Diz was the resident loserĖthe guy who found himself bound to a chair by bullies, and dressed with a pair of rubber breasts for all his fellow classmates to see.
How did it happen, you ask? How did Diz the zero become Gil the hero? With little more than a simple plan: Get expelled from school, visit a jail to get tough, return to a new school, and own it. With the help of some off-center charactersĖnamely an inmate named Luther (Griffin)Ėthe plan seems to work. That is until Diz's enemies from Rocky Creek jump the social divide and arrive at Eastland.
I know, I know. Sounds like your typical geek-makes-good story, the one youíve heard so many times where the class knob challenges the notion of popularity, wins the girl, and saves the day for the Trekkies of the world. Well, it is. In fact, if youíre reading this review hoping to get some idea of the aesthetics or depth of this movie, youíre wasting your timeĖthis film has neither. I guess director Ed Decterís experience on such dense and provocative projects as "Boy Meets World" didnít bestow him with an artistís touch. Nonetheless, as I said before, there is something wonderful about mindless entertainment, and this movie does provide some of that.
Griffinís Luther, the inmate Gil recruits to instruct him in the art of cool, is admirably funny. Unfortunately, Griffin strays little from the character he created for Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo. And although Qualls has his moments, it's quite obvious the unbearably lanky actor reached his peak as Hanes-clad mamaís boy Kyle in Road Trip.
But fear not you admirers of crude humor. All is not lost. Screenwriter David Kendall (the "Growing Pains" movie) scripts a tolerably shallow narrative ripe-full of all the penis jokes you can handle. In fact, judging from the audience laughter at the screening I attended, Kendall has proven that midgets, fat guys, hot chicks, and significant damage to the crotch are the very stuff of popular humor.
Not only does this movie stuff itself full of crude comedy and shameful slapstick, but its cameo capacity reaches its limit too. Gene Simmons, Tommy Lee, Kool Mo Dee, Vanilla Ice, Henry Rollins, Horatio Sanz, Tony Hawk, and the wonderfully bland Lyle Lovett (as Gilís father) all have screen time. And, unless you're in a coma, youíll probably notice plenty of amusing parodies of past films like Silence Of The Lambs, Patton, Urban Cowboy and Braveheart, each of which gave me a slight chuckle.
While Iím sure no one will leave this film touched by its substance, or blessed with a greater understanding of the world around them, I am confident that at the very least you will laugh a few times. But is it worth the price of admission?
Iíll put it this way: if youíre hoping to see another Road Tripor American Pie, you might be less disappointed if you just gouged out your own eyes. This movie does not even come close. To be honest, I would have preferred spending my 90 minutes expounding the intricacies of the peanut.
On the other hand, if boner jokes, midgets sailing through the air, the occasional glimpse of cheerleadersí panties, and more crotch crushing than you can keep up with sounds like entertainment, this movie is for you! Either way, when the credits begin to roll, donít leave too quickly. The funniest stuff is at the end.