Movies

C+

The New Guy

Genre: Comedy; Starring: Eliza Dushku, Eddie Griffin, D.J. Qualls, Zooey Deschanel, Lyle Lovett; Guest Performer: Tommy Lee, Henry Rollins, Gene Simmons; Director: Ed Decter; Author: David Kendall; Release Date Wide: 05/10/2002; Runtime (in minutes): 100; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Distributor: Columbia Pictures

DJ Qualls is so gangly he looks like he just got stretched on the rack; he’s like David Spade’s kid brother turned into a stringbean Pinocchio. In ”Road Trip,” Qualls, as the virgin loser, did a madly Caucasian hip-hop dance to Run-DMC’s ”It’s Tricky,” and now, sure enough, here he is trying to parlay that moment into marquee value.

Believe it or not, it could work. The New Guy is a Jekyll-and-Hyde teen comedy that sounds like a Pauly Shore reject, but Qualls moves his marionette body around with a true clown’s effervescence, and he does rubber-faced parodies of youth cool that are just what youth cool deserves. He plays a walking high-school disaster area who gets ”trained” by prison inmate Eddie Griffin (don’t even ask). Returning to school with Brad Pitt hair, he proceeds to knock the evil jocks on their butts, but the real joke, of course, is that he still looks like DJ Qualls. Can Qualls stretch his mascot masochism into stardom? It has happened to less charming geeks.

Originally posted May 24 2002 — 12:00 AM EDT

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