I have reviewed a film about high school students where the senior cheerleader was played by an actress who was only 15 years old in filming. Today I’ll look at a high school movie called “Just One of the Guys” where the star is supposed to be a junior but during filming the actress was 27 during filming. Certainly the age thing isn’t anything new (Olivia Newton-John was 29 when “Grease” came out in 1978) and “Just One of the Guys” isn’t a bad film. It’s not a great one, but it manages to overcome all the pitfalls that befell so many other filmmakers.
‘Just One of the Guys’
(1985; 90 minutes; rated PG-13; directed by Lisa Gottlieb and starring Joyce Heyser, Clayton Rohner and Billy Jayne – billed here as Billy Jacoby)
SHE BECOMES A GUY FOR THE STORY
(NOTE: I expanded this review and updated some links on April 11, 2016.)
Hollywood has long had a love affair with characters who become someone else, even if they had to change sexes. You can find parents becoming children and vice versa (“Freaky Friday” or “Like Father Like Son”) or find actors’ characters changing sex such as the recent Wayans brothers comedy “White Chicks” or with a star playing the opposite sex, such as John Travolta in “Hairspray.”
The teenager pretending to be of the other sex at school isn’t new either. So, today, I’ll look at “Just One of the Guys” and it has the girl pretending to be a guy so she can write a story to get a summer internship as a newspaper reporter. (Remember those? Real reporters actually still in the profession wish more people would.)
While “Just One of the Guys” stands way above Corey Haim’s lame effort in a sequel called “Just One of the Girls,” it limps along in mediocrity with a few good moments and a couple of nice efforts by supporting actors before spluttering to its predictable and saccharine end. So, not great but not truly bad, either.
Joyce Hyser plays “Terry Griffith” (yes, the movie poster for the film says “Terri” but it is “Terry” in the actual credits), an aspiring journalist with a college-age boyfriend who has to get a great story to impress her journalism teacher. The film gives a respectable amount of time to the run-up and then Hyser, whose acting credits include the hilarious teen comedy “The Hollywood Knights” (click here for my review of “Knights”), goes off to another school to pretend to be the male “Terry.”
Hyser is good in the role (although few high school juniors look as mature as she does here) and has an efficient performance with a lackluster script. She comes across earnestly as both characters and is especially effective with her over-sexed brother “Buddy Griffith” played by Jayne (I wonder if the over-sexed younger brother named “Bud” two years later on TV’s “Married with Children” was inspired by this one?).
The duo has a surprisingly funny scene as she needs advice on how to walk like a boy. OK, with the sock in the pants stunt out of the way, she’s off to the other school to experience it like a boy.
The first person Hyser encounters is William Zabka as “Greg Tolan,” the jock that rules the school. Zabka knows the role well, as he was “Johnny” in “The Karate Kid” and “Chas” with Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School” (click here for my review). It’s not a good encounter, but she meets Clayton Rohner as “Rick Morehouse.”
Of course Hyser and Rohner then run the gamut of boy-girl/girl-boy issues in “Just One of the Guys” from PE class to her going to use the boy’s restroom. The two become friends (what else?) but of course he doesn’t know Heyser is a she.
Zabka has since outgrown this type of character, but he did such work as well as anyone. However, he doesn’t really leave much of an impression here. Others are equally unimpressive including Sherilyn Fenn as “Sandy” in only her second feature film (she’d gain acclaim later for her work in TV’s “Twin Peaks”) and Kenneth Tigar as “Mr. Raymaker” the journalism teacher.
All in all, most TV shows of the era gave you an equal amount of competence on screen.
Jayne does a credible job as the over-sexed younger brother who does little except make sexual comments and look at Playboy magazines (or their centerfolds on his wall). Remember, good material (even the stereotype here) is difficult to find here.
The film spins itself out at the prom (what else?) and the truth about “Terry” comes out with a flash of a few seconds of Hyser’s open tuxedo shirt (remember, we’re at PG-13 here) and then culminates with the duo talking that summer, by which time Hyser is back in her regular wardrobe.
It’s too bad that all of this comes off as predictable and the filmmakers weren’t able to take stock comedy and liven it up (see Zabka in “Back to School” for much better material) with some original thoughts. Still, it isn’t all bad and you can actually watch it.
“Just One of the Guys” was 72nd at the box office for films in 1985 with a take of $11.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The No. 1 film was the classic-to-be “Back to the Future” at $210.6 million. Other films from that year that I’ve reviewed include:
- “Silverado” – click here for my review
- “To Live and Die in L.A.” – click here for my review
- “Real Genius” – click here for my review
- “American Flyers” – click here for my review
- “Target” – click here for my review
- “Gotcha!” – click here for my review
Other cast and film notes (via IMDb.com):
- Heyser, who had credits included “Valley Girl,” “Staying Alive” and “This is Spinal Tap” before “Just One of the Guys,” had some Bruce Springsteen posters in her character’s bedroom. In real life she dated Springsteen. She has since done a string of spots on TV (including “A. Law” and more recently “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”) and was in “The Wedding Pact” this year.
- Heyser was billed as “Joyce Heiser” for her role in “The Hollywood Knights” and “Valley Girl,” but, oddly enough, was under “Heyser” for a film that came between the two. I guess Hollywood productions don’t always go in sequence. However, “Just One of the Guys” was filmed in sequence and not in the more common technique of filming different scenes out of chronological order.
- Cast members lucky enough (no, I’m not kidding) to have notched an episode of “The Love Boat” (click here for my take on the TV series) are Toni Hudson, who plays Hyser’s friend “Denise;” and Leigh McCloskey, who plays Hyser’s boyfriend “Kevin.”
- Hudson was also in woeful “Places in the Heart” and she was in “Out of these Rooms.”
- Arye Gross, who plays “Willie,” is most recently in a recurring role as the medical examiner in the hit TV show “Castle.” He also had roles in “Minority Report,” “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and 68 of his 109 acting credits are for TV shows or TV movies.
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