The New Guy
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
a zero will rise This is one of those juvenile American comedies that's not quite sure what it wants to be: goofy farce, gross-out mayhem, sweet rom-com, what-I've-learned TV movie. All of these things exist in this story of a teen loser (Qualls) who's bullied at school so badly that he deliberately gets himself expelled. Then with the help of a twitchy convict (Griffin), he reinvents himself as the cool guy on the campus of his new high school. But of course, it doesn't go as planned when he begins to fall for the head cheerleader (Dushku), his old pals (Deschanel, Mixon and Shen) come back to embarrass him, and his dad (Lovett) teams up with the school guidance counselor (Douglas) to, erm, help.

Frustratingly, none of the storylines or genres are seen through to their full potential, leaving the film feeling fragmented and, quite literally, all over the place. The gross-out humour it too timid, the romance underdeveloped, the lessons in friendship paper thin, the parental wackiness nonsensical, and so on. But the cast and crew obviously had fun making this, and that feeling is sometimes infectious. There are some genuinely inspired set pieces and plot turns ... and lots of cameos to keep us playing spot the star (Henry Rollins, Tony Hawk, Gene Simmons, Vanilla Ice, Tommy Lee, David Hasselhoff). While Qualls is at least confident in the role, his gangly awkwardness makes him hard to take as a leading man. Dushku and Deschanel seem to think they're in a much better film than this one. And Griffin so overplays his character that you want to slap him. But never mind, this isn't rocket science. There's a decent message lurking under the shambolic chaos. And the film isn't nearly as bad as it could've been.

cert 12 themes, language, vulgarity 16.Aug.02

dir Ed Decter
scr David Kendall
with DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Eddie Griffin, Lyle Lovett, Illeana Douglas, Jerod Mixon, Parry Shen, Sunny Mabrey, Ross Patterson, Matt Gogin, Jerry O'Connell
release US 10.May.02; UK 20.Sep.02
Columbia
02/US 1h33

He's on fire! The new guy on campus (Qualls) leaves the cheerleaders speechless with his cool moves...

shadows
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
a zero will rise send your review to Shadows... "No film which features the following line (entirely in context) can be all bad: 'Yesterday an 80-year-old librarian broke my penis.' The level of creativity is right up there with the genius who managed to get a topless woman into Under Siege." --Alan Frank, London 28.Sep.02
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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