Wednesday, May 22, 2002

The New Guy

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Who’s got the funk? Not Dizzy Harrison (DJ Qualls), although he wants it something awful — he can’t beg a popular girl to even sit near him if he buys her coffee. He’s a blip, a nothing, happy not to get stuffed into his locker or have his butt hairs singed off, and doomed only to exist in the eyes of other blips. Or is he?

While temporarily incarcerated for taking over a mall gospel choir while under the influence of incorrectly prescribed Tourette’s medication, Dizzy meets Luther (Eddie Griffin). Having both been duct-taped and forced to wear rubber breasts by schoolmates and cellmates, they realize the similarities between high school and prison, and the metaphor takes off. Luther takes Dizzy on as a protégé and the recreation begins.

Expect typical high-school movie wackiness, like Dizzy videotaping the principal taking a crap. Mixed in are watery cameos by Gene Simmons, Vanilla Ice and Henry Rollins, and some god-awful (too many, too long) movie references, such as the impromptu Patton pep talk on the football field and the climactic Braveheart final conflict (Ouch!).

DJ Qualls does possess some charm, but not the chutzpah to make the forced humor float, and Eddie Griffin marks the points above water. There’s just not enough of his freaky-funny presence to keep you interested. Yet somehow, a small stroke of genius is hidden inside a mask of seen-this-before. Lyle Lovett plays Bear Harrison, Dizzy’s dad, and he’s really bad, in a good way. With that face only a mother (and Julia Roberts) could love and dead-to-life/deadpan delivery of lines like “Is it the crank? Are you riding the white pony, son?” one can’t help but get spiritual and wonder at the miraculous absurdities of life.

The New Guy is just another pathetic and weak skinny-white boy-searching-for-soul flick that you can squeeze a few hearty laughs out of, but nicely equipped with a triple-whip-it-all-night, funk-it-to-the-floor, out-the-door sound track that’ll have you dancing down the aisle during all the film’s built-in opportunities to get a frozen Coke, popcorn with butter, napkins, Raisinettes, Jujubes, a toothpick, more napkins …

Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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