The New Guy

2002, Movie, PG-13, 100 mins


A teenage nerd makes himself over into the coolest guy at school in this lame, derivative comedy. High school senior Dizzy (DJ Qualls) and his friends Nora (Zooey Deschanel), Glen (Parry Shen) and Kirk (Jerod Mixon) are "blips," which, they tell Dizzy's clueless dad Bear (Lyle Lovett), means they're so inconsequential in the school's social hierarchy that they barely register on the in-crowd's radar. This isn't strictly true — the in-crowd actually singles them out for cruel mortifications — but that's not the point. The point is that miserable though Dizzy's life is, it can get worse, and does, after he makes the ill-fated decision to talk to a popular girl. This breach of protocol sets off a chain reaction of mishaps that lands him in the guidance counselor's (Ileana Douglas) office with a penile injury sustained in full view of the entire student body. And to cap it all off, Dizzy gets thrown into jail for creating a ruckus at the mall. Ironically, this turns out to be his salvation: Dizzy's cellmate, Luther (Eddie Griffin), tells him that high school is a lot like prison, and so the same tricks that work in the stir can make Dizzy the baddest badass on campus. Emboldened, Dizzy gets himself expelled from his old school and starts afresh at East Highland High, where Luther's methods propel him to the top of the social pyramid. Bullies fear him, geeks respect him, teachers love him and Danielle (Eliza Dushku), the prettiest cheerleader of them all, falls for him. But Dizzy's newfound popularity is, sigh, based on a lie, so his inevitable unmasking looms, along with the equally inevitable lesson about being true to yourself, not dissing your old friends and realizing that popularity isn't everything. That this film ever saw the light of day is probably because first-time director Ed Decter and executive producer John J. Strauss were part of the writing team that produced the Farrelly Brothers' smash hit THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998). Its sense of humor runs heavily to toilet jokes, alternated with pointless parodies of memorable scenes from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), BRAVEHEART (1995), PATTON (1970) and URBAN COWBOY (1980), and its delights include cameo appearances by musicians Gene Simmons, Henry Rollins, Vanilla Ice and Tommy Lee, along with David Hasselhoff and professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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