Plot: Dizzy Harrison (DJ Qualls) has been an outcast his entire life, but now that he’s a senior, he is convinced things will change. His father Bear (Lyle Lovett) agrees and as it turns out, things do change, but not for the better. Diz winds up having his manhood broken to the side by an old woman, in front of the entire school and someone’s camera, no less. Now he simply refuses to return to school and after being tossed in jail for an incident with a religious choir, he finds some of the answers he seeks. While in prison, he meets head dude Luther (Eddie Griffin), who reveals that he used to be a bitch too, but then he switched prisons and personas, leading to him being the bull in his current prison. So Diz takes his advice and gets expelled from school, then takes some lessons on how to be bad ass, then enrolls at a rival high school. He is able to become Gil Harris, a mysterious and tough dude, even putting down the resident bully in the process. But when his past threatens to be revealed, what will Diz do to prove he is as cool as they think, even though he knows that he isn’t?
Entertainment Value: This movie looks like it would be one of the lamest comedies ever made, but The New Guy has some decent laughs and a colorful cast, which puts it ahead of a lot of early 2000s comedies. The narrative is a well worn one, with a nerd given some lessons to turn his social status around, but the movie goes over the top with the humor and situations, so it feels a little fresher than it should. This holds true of the movie as a whole, as it might not be a good movie, but it is better than it seems like it should be, so that’s an accomplishment of sorts. The film’s sense of humor is crude and often random, but always over the top and the crazier the jokes get, the better they work, at least for me. I can’t say the humor is consistently funny, but it makes a noble effort and more jokes work than you might think. The New Guy is one of those movies where the lead is weak, but a talented supporting cast bolsters the movie, as DJ Qualls is mediocre, but saved by his costars. Not much else to talk about with this one, not a comedy classic by any means, but a watchable movie.
The lead here is DJ Qualls and I said above, he is the weakest link in The New Guy, but his costars more than compensate. Perhaps if the movie had a more capable, active lead, things would have been much funnier, but Qualls is an anchor around the film’s neck, which is a real shame. Qualls’ best work has always been in small doses, so pushing him into a lead doesn’t work out that well. But even if you hate Qualls, don’t dismiss the movie, as there’s a good amount of focus on the others as well. Eddie Griffin is a lot of fun as the prison consultant, with his crazy eyes and over the top presence. Griffin adds a much needed energy here, as Qualls is a charisma vacuum and he needs lively actors around him. I think Griffin is given just the right amount of screen time, to earn laughs, but not overkill his character’s quirks. You can also check out Eliza Dushku and Zooey Deschanel in prominent roles, with the latter looking and acting much different than her later work. The cast also includes Sunny Mabrey, Horatio Sanz, Gene Simmons, and Ross Patterson.