A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film contains a lot of sexual talk, a little sexual activity (offscreen), and a mutilating injury that is supposed to be funny. Dizzy/Gil overdoses on medication, crashes a motorcycle, and sets his father's head on fire (by accident, for comic effect). The slapstick of the film is pretty violent, and there are frequent kicks to the groin. One character is described as a "slut" and likes to have sex in public. Another pages a friend on a store intercom, reporting a "pair of lost testicles."
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What's the story?
Dizzy (D.J. Qualls) is a funk-loving dork stranded at the bottom of the school pecking order with his pals (Parry Shen, Zooey Deschanel, and Jeord Mixon). After Dizzy is injured in an unlikely and deeply personal way, he decides to get expelled. His antics lead to a diagnosis of Tourette's syndrome and some stupefying medication. Eventually he's thrown in jail where he meets Luther (Eddie Griffin), the mentor he's been needing. Under Luther's tutelage, Dizzy is transformed into the punky Gil. At his new school on the other side of town, Gil spouts decade-old pseudo-Ebonic aphorisms and beat the local bully. His badboy status confirmed, he restructures the social hierarchy of the new place. Eventually, he's forced to confront the fact that Gil is just an invention, and also forced by the lame script to win the heart of the school bully's sexy girlfriend (Eliza Dushku).
Is it any good?
The New Guy is a waste of talent. This high school epic, supposedly about one boy's path to true cool is so half-baked and uncool that it's embarrassing. It is also another case of the MPAA giving a PG-13 rating to a comedy that has material that would get an R in a drama. It is painful to see some of today's most talented young actors wasted in this dreck. They're given very little to work with in the script. The writer and director have sadly bought into the same limited mindset about popularity and conformity that they are purportedly skewering.
The most troubling aspect might be strained impressions D.J. Qualls calls upon in his quest for status. It's intrinsically funny to watch the gawkiest white guy on the planet attempt to imitate macho black posturing. But so much of it goes on for so long that posturing begins to seem a little like caricature. And it's precisely this behavior, the epitome of imitative uncool, which is supposed to secure "Gil's" status.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who the arbiters of social status are in real high schools, and what qualities determine a person's status. What are the advantages of popularity? What are the consequences (advantages?) of being unpopular? Is social status fixed, or changeable? Does any of this really matter after high school?
- In theaters: May 10, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: August 13, 2002
- Cast: DJ Qualls, Eddie Griffin, Eliza Dushku
- Director: Ed Decter
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: gross humor, sexual references, and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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