Starring: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel
Director: David Kendall
Running Time: 88 mins
The New Guy is an American film about a nerd having been humiliated in school, moves to the town’s other high school with a new cool kid image, and quickly rises through the ranks to become the school’s biggest hunk of all.
It is amazing to think that a film released in the 21st Century can already look so very dated, but the likes of The New Guy seem to prove the impossible. Not only does it suffer from that rather generic and fairly tacky vibe of the late 90s/early 2000s, but also a set of values and rather basic ambition that just doesn’t sit well when looking from a modern perspective, featuring frustratingly simplistic and juvenile humour along with a painfully cheesy and try-hard attempt at an uplifting story, all of which makes the film a really irritating and rather difficult watch.
Now, first things first, I’ve got nothing against a good bit of simplistic, easy-going or even dinosaurish humour. Juvenile comedy is far from my favourite, but when done right – think of the likes of Anchorman – then it can be a brand of comedy that’s just as funny as any other (or actually even funnier).
The problem with films like The New Guy is that they shove such a simplistic and irritatingly basic style of comedy down your throat without ever really recognising how annoying it actually is. Of course, personal preference and your age comes into it, but if you’re like me and thought little of American Pie, 40 Days And 40 Nights and a number of others, then The New Guy certainly won’t be the film for you.
It’s sometimes a difficult thing to criticise, but the film’s set of values also proves one of its most damning factors. I don’t like to be all high and mighty and look at things from a solely modern perspective, but the way that this film represents women in particular – with an infuriatingly objectifying and lurid eye throughout – just doesn’t sit right with what I see as an entertaining and likable film, made even more shocking by the fact that the film wasn’t released in the Stone Age, but in 2002.
I will stress that not the whole film is just about objectification and looking at girls in revealing outfits or just cheerleading all the time, but it does occupy a strangely and distractingly large part of the movie, made further frustrating by the fact that few of the characters seem to step back and criticise it in any way.
And it’s that lack of self-awareness that really makes The New Guy such an unlikable movie. And when you don’t like a movie’s core values, it’s very difficult to get on board with the uplifting story that it’s trying to tell, about going against the curve and being yourself, no matter how much it may get you ridiculed.
Except, that’s the other thing about this film: the total hypocrisy of that main theme. The film ends on a high note about how being yourself is the greatest etc., but actually, the only way that the characters reach that point is by ingratiating themselves into the mode of the day, and acting in a fairly poor manner, only to eventually reveal to the friends they’ve made that way of their true selves.
And it’s things like that which can really take away from any real likability or sense of genuine, good intentions that a film has. Notice how I’m talking about themes and core values and not about comedy too, because the comedy is so poor that you’re forced to look elsewhere for any proper entertainment or intrigue.
Overall, then, I really didn’t think much of The New Guy. A film from a very recent era that feels entirely consigned to history already, it’s far from a funny comedy, but instead an irritatingly juvenile and often infuriatingly dinosaurish movie with a hypocritical and dull story, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.5.