Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Starring: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Griffin | Directed by: Ed Decter | Produced by: Mark Ciardi, Todd Garner, Gordon Gray | Written by: David Kendall | Distributor: Columbia Tristar
“Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” —2 Corinthians 5:17
Nearly everyone has had thoughts at some point about reinventing him or herself. It may be as subtle as a new hairstyle or as drastic as changing professions. We all have this deep longing to change or be changed. I’ve been there and remember looking forward to a move that my parents made in-between the 6th and 7th grade: a new school with new friends where no one knew you or your past reputation. When graduation arrived, I looked forward to the process that would take place again in college. Another new school and more new friends and once again an enjoyable slice of anonymity.
This truth reveals two facts that we all must one day face: 1) only Christ can enable true inner change in our lives, and 2) everyone needs to be loved, accepted and needed. They will either find that within the body of Christ or they will find it in the world. I have often wondered how many silent cries we ignore from those that dream of being someone else. This is not the first time that Hollywood has traveled down this path.
I know that I admired the film “A Walk to Remember” for some of those themes. You had one student that brought about changes through her convictions and another that completely changed the direction in his life because someone believed in him. I liked the some of the messages in “The New Guy”. It retells the American fable of a high school geek who changes schools and becomes the resident heartthrob.
Dizzy Gillespie Harrison (DJ Qualls) is our scrawny target for many embarrassing high school pranks. Director Ed Decter (who co-wrote the Farrelly Brothers’s “There’s Something About Mary”) wastes no time unpacking your typical adolescent offensive material. The film starts out with our unsuspecting hero having his male sexual organ broken. What happens afterward is too embarrassing to describe. Trust this reviewer—it is as disgusting as you can imagine (or better yet not imagine). A high school counselor diagnoses Dizzy with Tourette syndrome: a diagnosis often given to students who have uncontrolled and often unexplained behavior. Dizzy begins to go to great lengths to be expelled from school. He is convinced by Luther (Eddie Griffin), a convict that this is the accepted path toward changing his life. There are several low-rent jokes and the all too familiar cookie cutter plot as we join Dizzy on his journey. Dizzy achieves his goal and gets himself assigned to a new school (kids, don’t try this at home).
Dizzy arrives bound and gagged in “Hector” like fashion. He is now Gil Harris. Dizzy/Gil sets out to win the heart of the prettiest girl in school (of course). Danielle (Eliza Dushku) is a cheerleader and is taken by this new bad boy. She even takes him to the mall to help her pick out a bathing suit. True to many flics in this genre, lust, sex and drugs are used to move the story along. Just like another film that was a big looser, “Zoolander”, the movie makes several pit stops and tries to refuel with cameos.
Lyle Lovett plays the boys father, with other appearances by Tony Hawk, Gene Simmons, Tommy Lee, Vanilla Ice and David Hasselhoff.
There are some positive messages that attempt to prove that the heart of this movie is in the right place. A strong statement is made about friendship. I even liked the compassion that Dizzy/Gil was able to bring out of an entire school for the geeks on campus. The problem is that those points are spoiled by the quest for the lowest common denominator. It makes you wonder sometimes who is the true adolescent.
What did other critics think? Only 5% of the National Critics liked this film and many were surprised that Columbia Pictures/Revolution Studios got away with a PG-13 rating on this (I know that I was). Despite a few positives, this is not a film for our youth or anyone for that matter!