Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The New Guy (2002)

Directed by Ed Decter
Starring DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel
Rated PG-13

"I don't even know what to call you."
"Broke-dick seems to be popular."

For a website that generally wallows happily around in badfilm like medicated pigs in mud, you think we'd champion something like The New Guy, one of the most atrocious teen-coms of the 00's. If not for its many glaring detriments - usually a cause for celebration in these sorts of situations - than at least for the blinding gorgeousness of a 22-year old Eliza Dushku, or for the healing sunshine that is Zooey Deschanel. Unfortunately, we cannot. I mean, we have to put our foot down somewhere, and we are hereby stomping our size tens directly on The New Guy, smooshing its stupid face into the dirt until it bursts in a flurry of bright-red awfulness.

It's not even The New Guy's fault, really. It just happens that the film arrived at a nadir in American culture, probably its lowest ebb since the very early 1980's, when parachute pants and Euro-disco were big. Travel back with us, if you would, to the bad daze of 2002, a post 9-11 wasteland of nu-metal, ass-cleavage, and the kind of fervent celebrity worship that turned previously half-normal kids like Britney Spears and Lyndsay Lohan into maniacs and shut-ins, when reality TV was all the rage, and Anna Nicole Smith was fat and famous. Honestly, do you really want to revisit that wretched era, for even a moment? The New Guy is like a rancid time capsule that collects every ugly element of that era into one witless, laughless, life-sapping 88 minutes.

Ed Decter was/is a TV writer. He specializes in low-grade schlock, stillborn sitcoms like Worst Week of My Life and kiddie fare like Lizzie McGuire. He took a shot as a Hollywood director with this one, but The New Guy bleeds small-screen from every pore. One of the jobs of a TV writer is to stay current; a winning sitcom incorporates the themes, vernacular, and surprise guest stars of the day. This approach doesn't work as well in a film, which is built to have a long shelf-life. It is already unlikely that your average teenager in 2009 will even recognize Buck Cherry's Josh Todd or Henry Rollins at this point, and what could possibly be lamer than cameos from David Hasselhoff or Gene Simmons? Likewise, the clanging soundtrack instantly dates the movie, and not in a good way. Honestly, Mystikal? The Offspring? Fucking Saliva?

While we're on the subject of the music...well, I suppose a short plot description is in order first. Dizzy Harrison (DJ Qualls, in the sort of role Eddie Deezen would have taken on 20 years ago) is a put-upon doofus, constantly humiliated and tortured by his classmates. His only solace is his garage funk band. Zooy Deschanel is his bass player. Here's the thing. Besides the obvious conclusion to this gimmick - you just know he's going to play "Play That Funky Music Whiteboy" in the climax - this character has no relationship to funk whatsoever. Nothing about his personality or lifestyle would suggest a funk addiction. It's just a dramatic device to propel him from one end of the movie to the other. I'm not sure why, but this seriously bugged me. The funk is not to be funked with. Anyway, he decides the only way out of his sorry circumstances at school is to get expelled, and then get enrolled in an entirely different school. And that's what happens.

But first he goes to prison (?), so he can get advice on how to be a bad-ass, from Eddie Griffin. When he gets to the new school...well, a bunch of bullshit happens, and then he plays "Play That Funky Music Whiteboy", and then the whole horrible ordeal is over. Nothing can save this movie, not Henry Rollins, not Zooey Deschanel, nothing. Decter quickly went back to television, DJ Qualls hit the redneck comedy circuit, and who the fuck knows where Eddie Griffin is.

Ultimately, there is only one reason why anyone should ever watch The New Guy, and thanks to the miraculous modern times we live in, it appears in its entirety on Youtube: Eliza Dushku trying on bikinis. Watch, enjoy, and let us bury this movie and the rest of 2002 in the deepest hole we can find, and move on.

1 comment:

  1. Tonight's double bill - The Brain (direct-to-vid Canadian trash from '88) followed by... Heartbeeps.

    Yeah, that's right folks - Heartbeeps!

    I'm also downloading To Sleep With A Vampire starring Ms. Charlie Spradling as a stripper. High hopes for that one!


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