|The New Guy
2002 - PG-13 - 81 Mins.
|Director: Ed Decter
|Producer: Mark Ciardi, Ed Decter, Michael Fottrell, Todd Garner,Gordon Gray, Greg Silverman, John J. Strauss
|Written By: David Kendall
|Starring: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Jerod Mixon, Parry Shen
|Review by: Joe Rickey
DJ Qualls was an unknown actor a few years back. Then he made a memorable turn in Road Trip as the geeky one in a trio of characters. He was the best and most humorous part of that film. But just because he could make an amusing supporting character doesn’t mean that he can star in a full-length comedy titled The New Guy directed by Ed Decter, one of the writers of There’s Something About Mary.
Qualls plays the role of Dizzy, a high school nerd who’s teased unrelentingly everyday of school. He then finds himself in jail for a various sundry of charges. While in prison he learns how to act cool from a fellow inmate played to the hilt by Eddie Griffin and other assorted inmates. Once out of prison he changes his name to Gil and attends a new school. He stands up to a bully and soon everyone respects him and all the girls find him to be hip and cool to be with.
This simple premise is the setup for supposedly comical situations to ensue throughout the films 90 minute running time. Unfortunately, The New Guy is far from comical. For one, the premise is faulty. Just because he went to prison doesn’t mean that suddenly people who despised him would find Dizzy turned Gil to be hip and cool. The poor acting performances don’t help either. Qualls acts almost exactly the same way as Dizzy and Gil so why would people find him to be cool after prison? Eddie Griffin is mildly amusing in his small role but he’s not used as much as he could have been. As Qualls new girlfriend, Eliza Dushku is appropriately attractive but she is limited in her acting ability. Also making an appearance are Zooey Deschanel, Lyle Lovett and David Hasselhoff in a cameo. Their roles are also mildly amusing but they aren’t in the film long enough to make The New Guy a good film. The problem is that David Kendall’s script is clichéd and features many outdated references to much better films such as Braveheart and Patton. Kendall’s script also features too many uncomfortable attempts at comedy such as when a teacher of Qualls literally breaks his penis. Is that funny? I think not. Decter’s direction is juvenile and he doesn’t stage the few potentially comical situations with any panache whatsoever.
Overall, The New Guy is a rather pathetic attempt at a teen comedy that suffers from mostly bad acting, writing and directing. Simply put, The New Guy is a below average film. Here’s to hoping that the young and talented DJ Qualls and Eliza Dushku make better decisions on scripts in the future. If they do so, they have the talent to be formidable stars with Qualls a gifted comedian and Dushku capable of appearing in different genres of film with equal success.