Monday, September 6, 2010

A Decade of Dreck #29: The New Guy

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film reviewaggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT'scomplete list, click here for more about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

The American teen movie is a sacred institution. From its John Hughes golden age to contemporary classics like Mean Girls and Superbad, there has always been a need and a desire for well made films that take a serious yet funny look at the life of middle-class high schoolers.

However there is a dark side to the teen movie. It is an easy sell, and the chances of mediocrity and worse are quite high. Odds are a movie involving thirteen-to-eighteen-year-old characters trying to survive high school and/or get laid are going to be bad.

There are a couple reasons for this: for one, teenagers will see anything. They've got plenty of their parents' money and are fans of sitting in a dark room for an hour and a half, if for no reason other than to fingerbang or send text messages. Secondly, there is always the prejudice held among grown-ups that teens are shallow and simple creatures: throw together a hot chick, an evil principal, and a pop punk soundtrack and you've got yourself a teen movie.

For every Sixteen Candles, there must be a New Guy.

The New Guy stars DJ Qualls, professional weirdo as David "Dizzy" Gillespie Harrison, a nerdy teen. That's about all there is to his character: he likes soul music and gets made fun of. Despite having a close-knit circle of friends who include Zooey Deschanel(!) with Dana Scully hair(!!), his life is a living hell. After a series of mishaps that include getting hopped up on Tourette's medication and storming the stage at a gospel choir's (led by Gene Simmons? This movie has some strange cameos) performance at a shopping mall (?) and breaking a mop, Dizzy is sent to prison.

Now, I have no idea what kind of draconian penal code Dizzy's small Texas (oh wait, there we go) town must have that send an eighteen-year-old first offender to jail for misdemeanors that are normally dealt with a slap on the wrist or a small fine, but whatever they are, he ends up in the big house twice in the film's first twenty minutes. There he meets Luther (repeat offender Eddie Griffin), a hardened convict who we must assume has done some pretty awful things both in and out of prison. Luther instructs Dizzy in the ways of the tough guy (hey, it's better than rape) and when he is released, Dizzy is expelled and sent to another high school across town. Here he reinvents himself as "Gil Harris", rebel without a cause. For some reason, his new classmates aren't fooled and think Dizzy is awesome.

Dizzy goes about impressing his new chums with such badass antics as riding a motorcycle (badly) and inadvertently beating up the school bully. Eventually, in a series of scenes that reference Patton and Braveheart, a movie that was already seven years old at the time of this release, he rallies the entire school to support their once crappy football team and win the state championship. Kids, the way to find self-actualization is to act like an idiot and get your classmates to support the jocks in their jockiest endeavors. Oh, and if you can create a fake persona and not be yourself, that's even better.

As I noted before, this movie has a weird number of cameos. I mentioned Gene Simmons (who preaches abstinence! Get it? He's fucked a lot of women! Ha!), but my real favorite has to be Tony Hawk, who shows up to skateboard at a teenage girl's kegger, and then proceeds to hit on underage girls. Jeez, the Birdman will travel quite far from his Orange County abode in search of jailbait, eh? The other great one has to be the inexplicable presence of Jerry O'Connell (of Sliders and getting his dick eaten by 3D piranhas fame) and his twin brother Charlie as attendees of the same party. Both look to be at least thirty. It's creepy.

Further cameos include, and I kid you not, Henry Rollins, Tommy Lee, Vanilla Ice, Horatio Sanz, Jermaine Dupri, Kyle "KG" Gass, and probably more I couldn't figure out.

This movie is bad. Just bad. Terrible even. It's riddled with cliches and unearned sentimentality. It's also incredibly dated. From it's awful pre-9/11 soundtrack to such cultural touchstones as the notion that putting blonde highlights in one's hair makes one not-to-be-fucked-with and gives off a "Brad Pitt vibe".

The only saving grace? This movie is narrated by Griffin's character and the story told to an unknown listener. The ending reveals the tale's intended target as none other than David Hasselhoff himself, who just wants to hear what it's like for people for have difficulty getting girls.

The New Guy is ranked #94 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 7% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.