Making the Grades
Once a geek, always a geek? High school student Dizzy Harrison (DJ Qualls) is convinced summer vacation along with maturing attitudes in senior high will release him from his status as school nerd. But a football hurled at his head knocks that notion flying.
Anxious to get away from his reputation and the brutal bullying, he starts a personal campaign to get himself expelled. Breaking a mop handle seems to be the final straw, and he ends up not only out of school, but also in the slammer. There in the cozy confines of a prison cell, he meets Luther (Eddie Griffin) and learns the finer points of remaking himself from dud to dude.
After serving his sentence (for breaking a mop?), Dizzy transfers to a new school as the oh-so-cool Gil Harris. With all the right moves, he soon makes a name for himself with a popular cheerleader (Eliza Dushku) and even impresses his garage band friends (Zooey Deschanel, Parry Shen, Jerod Mixon), who come by for the unveiling of "the new guy." But his facade is threatened when a former classmate shows up on Dizzy's new turf.
Like many before him, Dizzy learns popularity can come at a hefty price, especially to personal integrity. It's this realization that tries to justify The New Guy and set it apart from other teen flicks. But despite Dizzy/Gil's efforts to change class distinctions at his new school and stand up for the little guy, the marginal messages are sideswiped by a host of profanities and loads of sexual content involving teens. Foul-mouthed administrators, unchecked bullies and a guidance counselor who hands out prescription drugs all make jail seem like the preferable environment in this film.
While Dizzy Harrison may be looking for a fresh face to present to the world, The New Guy is merely a rewrite of a tired storyline with the usual stock of teen-movie characters. Cheesecake cheerleaders, wimpy musicians, tough jocks, and useless educators make this guy anything but new.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The New Guy.
At Dizzy’s new school, the students gather on an outside terrace with several levels. Is it significant that each level is a gathering spot for a different group of students i.e. punks, jocks, cowboys, nerds? How clear-cut are those distinctions in a real high school? Do you think that students from various interest groups can interact?
Both Danielle and Dizzy were willing to drop their old friends in the pursuit of popularity. How did it affect them in the end? What would you be willing to give up in order to be accepted by a group of people?