- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

The aspiring young madcap D.J. Qualls, who enjoyed a minor triumph of twerpiness in the cast of "Road Trip" and now appears in "The New Guy," presents an oddly proportioned face to the camera.
His oversized forehead seems to contradict an alarmingly narrow jaw line and hollow set of cheekbones. The borderline is kind of patrolled by a Pinocchio schnoz in an early phase of extension.
He seems an appropriate figurehead for a high school farce as predictably coarse and haphazardly proportioned as "The New Guy."
The movie blends predominant slapdash slapstick that's frequently obscene with a remnant of clever stuff, much of it movie-based mockery.
Mr. Qualls plays a high school wimp named Dizzy Harrison who gets himself expelled and supposedly profits from the worldly wisdom of a con named Luther (Eddie Griffin) during a brief, preposterous prison term.
The interlude as Luther's cellmate transforms hapless Diz into an imposter called Gil Harris, who returns to high school as the coolest of delinquents at a rival institution on the other side of town.
The competing schools are called Rock Creek and East Highland. Every so often, they're reputed to be in Texas, perhaps because a handful of gags and characters are meant to mock "Varsity Blues."
The wittiest brainstorm of that nature is that two supposedly pivotal games are reduced to highlight single plays winning touchdowns for the adopted team at East Highland, yoked to a prolonged losing streak before Gil revitalizes school spirit. He does this by masquerading as Gen. George S. Patton and William Wallace on horseback.
Whoever imagined Mr. Qualls could attempt a George C. Scott impression was a captive of utter delusion. This passage alone can serve as a cautionary reminder of how a very little of Mr. Qualls can go the wrong way.
Other jokes originate with identifiable bits from "Out of Sight," "The Silence of the Lambs," "The Blues Brothers," "The Fight Club" and "Urban Cowboy." There's a genuinely funny crack about "Pearl Harbor" and similar snappers that allude to baseball, the Nile River and homeless collectors of bottles and cans.
If they reflect the verbal acumen of screenwriter David Kendall, more power to him in this particular vein.
The casting of Lyle Lovett as Dizzy's father also can be commended as a freakish inspiration. Nevertheless, being such a good sport as to play Dizzy's father should earn Mr. Lovett a little consideration when vicious sight gags are being cooked up.
The filmmakers seem demented when Diz flips a flaming marshmallow into dad's left eye to cap off a scene that scarcely needs to exist.
To some extent, one can envision "The New Guy" as a usefully perverse Hollywood export. It could inflame and cloud the minds of humorless anti-American hordes everywhere.
I would prefer to see the prankish whoppers remain carefree. For example, it's more agreeable to watch Eliza Dushku model swimsuits as East Highland head cheerleader Danielle or watch Mr. Qualls fall short while pretending to be a big dude on campus.
A lot of peers or mentors seem to be cheering him on. Jerry O'Connell, Harlan Williams, David Hasselhof, Gene Simmons, Tommy Lee, Vanilla Ice and skateboarder Tony Hawk drop by for cameos.
A rotund juvenile named Jerod Mixon, cast as one of Diz's Rock Creek cronies, seems a more promising comic personality than the star.
If you can block out most of the farcical wreckage, the mean streak and the overwhelming impulse to play it gross and stupid, "The New Guy" may not seem half-bad.

*1/2
TITLE: "The New Guy"
RATING: PG-13 (Frequent comic vulgarity and facetiously exaggerated violence; sexual and drug allusions; crude sight gags)
CREDITS: Directed by Ed Decter, written by David Kendall and cinematography by Michael D. O'Shea
RUNNING TIME: About 90 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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