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Just One of the Guys

For those unlucky enough to grow up in the 1980s, some of the more beloved films of that period, particularly the teen-sex comedies, have a nasty habit of aging poorly. However, Just One of the Guys (1985) is blessedly free from such heartbreaking reassessment — it was always crap. Still, the film has maintained a surprisingly prominent place in the memories of Gen X-ers, if only because of its pay-cable ubiquitousness, which was second only to Can't Buy Me Love. While that movie was recently remade as Love Don't Cost a Thing, it's hard to imagine this Lisa Gottlieb-directed relic ever getting dusted off by originality-challenged Hollywood execs. After all, the film's central conceit — that a plucky, young high school senior would have to switch genders to be secure a newspaper internship — is just as outdated now as it was 20 years ago, a fact that apparently didn't escape Gottlieb or her writers, who quickly jettison their socially conscious pretensions in favor of mining their gender-swapping concept for all the ribaldry that a PG-13 rating will allow. Back in the '80s, this meant a flash of breasts — which in this case belong to the star, Joyce Hyser, who plays the buxom and unbelievably brainy Terry. When her sexist journalism teacher denies her the aforementioned internship explicitly because she's female, Terry, rather than getting the lout fired, cuts her hair, dons painfully hip clothes, and attends another school as a male (the writers wisely avoid even the faintest attempt at making this plausible). Terry quickly befriends a shy James Brown fanatic, Rick (Clayton Rohner), while running afoul of the school bully, played to the feathered-coif tilt by scofflaw du jour of '80s teen cinema William Zabka. Of course, Terry begins to fall in love with her new boy pal, while sending female hearts aflutter as well (in particular, a young Sherilyn Fenn), leading to all manner of poorly staged, door slamming farce as our heroine struggles to keep up her façade. For the most part, the comedic heavy lifting in the film lands on the unsteady shoulders of Billy Jacoby, who plays Buddy, Terry's hormonal explosion of a younger brother. (Sadly, Jacoby never achieved the potential suggested by his phenomenal run as Rudi Stein on The Bad News Bears television show). As a pop-cultural artifact, Just One of the Guys serves up bountiful unintentional laughs, provided that the beer is flowing. But for those without a childhood connection to the picture, it must be some kind of excruciating. Columbia TriStar presents Just One of the Guys in a full-frame transfer (1.33:1) with reasonable Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Extras are limited to three trailers for other Sony DVD releases. Those hoping for a definitive "William Zabka: I Swept the Leg" featurette must continue to wait. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks

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