In my attempt to escape the horror pattern I have been entrenched in, I selected Just One of the Guys as my next review. As it turns out, the director, Lisa Gottlieb, also directed an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares (the Nightmare on Elm Street television series). The film’s star, Joyce Hyser, appeared in that same episode.
Terry Griffith (Hyser) is a high school student who has almost everything she wants. Her parents are rich, she has a car, she’s beautiful, she goes out with a college dreamboat that is also rich. She dreams of becoming a journalist and the local paper is running a contest where students can submit articles for a chance to be published. The winning “reporter” will also get an awesome summer job at the paper. The article she submits does not get selected, and two male students’ work does. This coupled with a comment from her journalism teacher convinces her that she was not selected because she is a hot girl that no one will take seriously as a journalist. She becomes so distraught, that with the (sort of) help from her sex obsessed yet still virgin brother, she resorts to cross dressing and taking her article to another high school. She intends to submit it as a male to see if it gets selected simply because she is a boy. It doesn’t, but she stays at the school to find another story to write, and hilarious 80′s teen sex comedy ensues.
I also selected this film as sort of an easy 99th review so that we could quickly post the 100th review on the site. I happen to have it in my instant queue as it is a definite comfort movie of mine. Upon watching this, it would be quite easy to dismiss it for the one of a thousand standard 80′s teen sex comedies that it is at surface level. But watching it for the purpose of critical analysis, I realized that this is actually a pretty well put together movie, and really should stand out from the likes of Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds, et al. There is only one scene with nudity, and it is rather brief. The main character is not obsessed with sex, in fact quite the opposite. Even the comedy is not largely based on sex. Really, the sex part of this is confined to Terry’s brother Buddy (played by Billy Jayne, and is quite hilarious) who is a virgin, determined to have sex while their parents are out of town. One could even argue that the categorization of “sex comedy” could even be a play on meanings where sex refers to gender, and not having sex.
There is a lot of interesting things going on in this film that you may miss if you just watch it for comfort, as I usually do. Terry is quite popular, but when she dresses as a boy and goes to a school where no one knows her, she is quite unpopular at first, as any new kid might be. As she befriends Rick, who himself has no friends, she takes him on as a sort of project, and gives him advice on how to dress and act, etc. in order to become popular and get a date. It’s actually borderline brilliant the way Hyser plays this; Terry the boy, trying to make friends, be hip and blend in, while at the same time Terry the popular girl, trying to help Rick do the exact same thing. You can actually see the back and forth she goes through. In a scene where Terry and Rick are talking about music in the cafeteria, you can see the genuine, yet subtle delight on Terry’s face in finding something in common, whereas in another scene, she is spouting off male things like, “this is what you call typical male bonding,” as if she is teaching Rick how to interact with other males. I found that this boy/girl, teacher/student conflict to be done quite well, especially when Terry falls in love with Rick, which only compounds the problem. I don’t know that there is any deep social commentary in this (other than the obvious), but not many (if any) films of this sort actually have anything worth looking at deeper than tits.
The film is is quite funny due largely to a decent script delivered with excellence by everyone that had a funny line. In addition to the few anachronisms, the film is sealed in the 80′s by an appearance from Willam Zabka as the (shocker) school bully. There are also appearances from Ayre Gross and Sherilyn Fenn to completely randomize the cast.
Now the film is not without its flaws of course. How a fight between 4 people at a prom could go on with not one member of faculty stopping it kind of baffles me. Also, as much ruckus as Zabka’s character caused in this film in general (much to the janitor’s dismay; pay attention to him in any scene he is in), I did not understand how no one gave him at least a detention. Also, I understand that even high school kids can have facial hair, but when you cast 30 year olds with mustaches as high school kids, they look 30. However, it feels almost pointless to pick apart a movie of this genre.
It may seem odd to write a review for this film, as it really is purely intended to be light and frothy, but it really is a decent comedy worth a watch. It is still very funny 25 years later, and deserves to enjoyed more than as just a teen sex romp.