THE NEW GUY is an energetic, sweet-natured comedy that gleefully discombobulates the unfortunate social class system that has plagued high schools since the beginning of time. Teenager Dizzy Harrison (DJ Qualls) is the laughing stock of Texas’ Rocky Creek High School. But his loser status changes when he lands a prison sentence and falls under the tutelage of a wild inmate, Luther (Eddie Griffin), who gives him a crash course in “coolness.” Upon his release, he enrolls at East Highland High and puts his plan into effect. Surprisingly, the new-and-improved Gil Harris becomes an overnight sensation, winning the affections of a beautiful cheerleader, Danielle (Eliza Dushku), in addition to the entire student body. But when Danielle’s bitter ex-boyfriend discovers Gil’s secret, Gil must own up to his past life and risk losing his newfound popularity in the process.
Ed Decter’s surprisingly sensitive romp through the cruel halls of high school boasts engaging performances by its young stars (most notably, the quirky Qualls and soon-to-be-superstar Zooey Deschanel), as well as a freewheeling soundtrack that ranges from hip-hop to rock to classic funk to eighties pop. A seemingly endless onslaught of musician cameos, from Jermaine Dupri to Henry Rollins to Vanilla Ice to Tommy Lee, only adds to the comic energy.