The New Guy (PG-13)
IMDb; Revolution; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; FandangoNOW; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu
Well... the first thing I want to say is that when I was finding links to put at the top of the review, I noticed Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie 7%, which is one of the lowest ratings I've ever seen there. I don't think it deserves that rating, but I can totally understand it. Honestly... the plot is far from original. I mean it's pretty much textbook formula. But... even so, I happened to find it pretty hilarious. (And I'll say this, one good thing about movies that do poorly is you can generally get the DVD pretty cheap. I got this out of the $5 bin at Walmart.) Anyway, I think I must've seen previews for the movie when it hit theaters, though I don't remember if it seemed like something that would interest me at all. It may have looked good to me, or it may have looked like crap. Either way, there's hot girls on the DVD case, so for $5 bucks, why not check it out?
The movie begins with this prison inmate named Luther, telling a story to someone, though we don't see to whom he's speaking until the end of the movie. Mostly, we get to see the story he's telling, which is of a high school senior named Dizzy Harrison (DJ Qualls). Dizzy's in a funk band with three friends of his: Nora (Zooey Deschanel), and Kirk and Glen. They're all outcasts at school, referred to as "blips." Um... anyway, a ridiculously unlikely series of events leads to Dizzy ending up in jail, briefly, where he meets Luther. They bond, and he gets the idea from Luther of getting expelled. He makes a few fruitless attempts at this before finally succeeding. Then he goes back to prison to talk more with Luther and the other inmates, who teach him all he needs to know to reinvent himself. It's all completely unrealistic, but the warden seems to be friendly with the inmates, himself, so... whatever.
Finally, Dizzy is delivered to his new school in a dramatic fashion which leads everyone there to believe he'd been in prison. He's now using the name Gil Harris, and goes about implementing the lessons he'd learned from the inmates, starting by picking a fight with the toughest guy at school. This turns out to be a guy named Connor, who is dating a cheerleader named Danielle (Eliza Dushku). Of course, "Gil" soon starts getting friendly with Danielle, which upsets Connor. Though pretty much everyone else at school is impressed by... pretty much everything Gil does. Mostly it's stuff which is totally ridiculous (though looking back, it kind of reminds me of the old Frankie and Annette Beach movies from the 60s). And then there are things that end up looking actually cool, but by accident. And of course, he gets some help from his old friends, Nora, Kirk, and Glen. And eventually, he does some stuff that is, in its own crazy way, kind of legitimately cool. ...And the end is happy, if mostly predictable.
Um... yeah, there's a bunch of cliches throughout the movie, that can't be denied. It could hardly be considered spoilers to list them all, since they apply to pretty much every single movie of this type. So... meh, I won't bother. But I did feel that a lot of the humor was... less straightforward than one might expect, a bit quirky, maybe there were even a few slight twists. Everything that happened was utterly unbelievable... I mean, "Gil" didn't even look or act that cool some of the time. But whatever... the whole movie is just so over the top, tongue in cheek, intentionally silly... that even when it seems to take itself seriously, I can forgive... no, not "forgive." Rather, appreciate the silliness of it all. It's not meant to be believable in the slightest, not even the kind of surreal believability one might expect of a typical comedy. This was just sort of absurd and wacky and dumb, but in a good way. In my opinion. I'd totally get anyone else feeling the movie didn't pull it off, though. But I thought it was really fun. And of course, there were cute girls and lots and lots of guest stars in cameo roles, just seeming to have fun being part of all the ridiculousness....
...You know, it occurs to me to call this a parody of the whole "outsider lies about him/herself to become insider" genre, but actually I think it really falls somewhere between being a parody of such movies, and being one itself. I know I said it was intentionally silly, but... I just don't want you to think of it as one of those movies that (usually) have "Movie" in the title, if you know what I mean... like "Scary Movie" and "Not Another Teen Movie" and "Epic Movie" and so forth. (I haven't seen any of this type of movie; I'm occasionally tempted- they do seem to have some sort of funny bits- but for the most part the trailers just look too stupid to me. Way more over the top and dumb than this movie.) I just feel... there's a danger in trying to take "The New Guy" as either end of the spectrum, either a parody of its genre or just a movie that typifies that genre. And again, I can understand where some people might prefer movies that are clearly one or the other, and not some grey middle ground... *shrug* But as I said, I really liked it.