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Best of the 80s – Just One of the Guys

March 18, 2010


Terry: How do I look?
Buddy: Dashing.
Terry: My zipper’s open.
Buddy: That was the dashing part.

Terry and Rick scope out the ladies

This incredibly deep, moving dialogue occurs between Terry, our dashing protagonist and her little brother Buddy. 

Nothing says the 1980s like a great cross-dressing comedy.  Thank goodness most of us movie fanatics can entertain that elusive suspension of disbelief that tolerates things such as:

1.)  gorgeous girls that boys think are ugly, simply because they wear glasses or their hair in a ponytail

2.)endless, gratuitous clothes-changing montages set to bad music

3.) thinking a girl is a guy just because of a haircut , a change of clothes and a deeper voice.

The last statement above  is the premise behind the 80s classic and today’s topic of discussion – Just One of the Guys
Let’s face it, Just One of the Guys works as an entertaining comedy because the actors are skillful enough to realize that the whole plot is ridiculous.  They work around it, and a comedy classic is born.

The basic plot is as follows:

Terry Griffith is a hot, popular babe at her plush California high school.  Despite pretty much getting everything she wants, her journalism advisor refuses to take her work seriously.  For good reason- her article on cafeteria food is as dry as eating raw cardboard.  From the sneer on her teacher’s face, and the fact that he tells her she should find a fallback career “like modeling”, we can tell Terry is going to need to hatch some dastardly plan to get her work noticed and win the journalism contest.

Before and After...what a haricut can do for a guy - uh girl.

She transfers to the rival high school, enrolls as a boy, and attempts to fit in.  She discovers life as a nerdy, short-haired boy is not all she had dreamed of, and along the way falls in love with her only male friend, Rick (nicely played by character actor Clayton Rohener).   Many sex jokes and cases of mistaken identity will follow.   If you are looking for deep and meaningful, this flick is NOT for you.  Still, it manages to be a cult classic thanks to some fun performances and a sly direction by Lisa Gottlieb.

Let’s face it – the plot isn’t really the point here.  Terry’s story endures many 80s movie cliche roadblocks:

*  the douchebag, older college boyfriend, from whom she must hide her “other” identity

* the annoying, horny younger brother serving as comic relief, while trying actively to sleep with all of Terri’s female friends

* the climatic reveal scene,  taking place at the school prom, during which the school bully gets humiliated and Terri is “unmasked” for who she really is.

The fact is that Joyce Hyser, Clayton Roehner and Billy Jayne as Terri’s brother Buddy go for the gusto, and their performances make Just One of the Guys more than a series of 80s pratfalls and cliches. 

Clayton Roehner’s Rick gets some of the best lines in the film as he goes up against the classic 80s bully (although not exactly a consummate thespian), William Zabka (he was also immortalized as Johnny, the “bad guy” in The Karate Kid):

Rick: [Rick gets on the table in the high school cafeteria to make an announcement] Ah, excuse me, could I have your attention please, your attention. Every day at lunch, we get a very special treat from a very special guy, a guy who has dedicated his life to building his body, pushing his muscles to the limits of human endurance; why, you ask? Why? Well, to be strong enough to lift tables and spill food, Greg Tolan!
[everyone starts clapping]
Rick: Let’s take a moment to find out a liitle bit about the man behind the mess. Greg – may I call you Greg? Now tell us, Greg, how you got into spilling food. Were you a messy baby? Did you hate your strained peas? Well, you know how most psychologists tell us that guys get into bodybuilding to compensate for a lack of IQ, or a small weenie; which is it, Greg? Well, those of us in Greg’s gym class certainly know the the answer to that one.
Greg Tolan: I’m going to beat the BLEEP out of you, Morehouse!
Rick: Isn’t he great, muscles and a sense of humor. Well, let’s thank Greg for the lunch time thrills and spills he’s given us. OK, EVERYBODY GET UP! GRAB AN END OF YOUR TABLE!
[the kids in the cafeteria go to an end of their table]
Rick: A tribute to you Greg: LIFT!
[everybody in the cafeteria lifts their table, spilling food

 It’s a guilty pleasure movie, and I’m proud to say it is in my collection.

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