Watching The New Guy, the latest Revolution offering, I'm reminded of a quote from Roth's old Disney boss, Michael Eisner, who says in GQ, "Joe has always been a media darling and says the right things, but no one ever takes a look at what he actually does." That's because one can't look directly at Revolution's films; they're best watched through squinted eyes and slotted fingers. That is especially true of The New Guy, an ugly-duckling tale so hideously and clumsily told, it feels accidental; surely, no one planned something this disastrously unfunny.
The story is a dodgy variation on a soporific theme: Put-upon geek (played by DJ Qualls, not funny) is constantly getting harassed at high school, winds up in prison, falls under the sway of a mentoring con (Eddie Griffin, never funny), and comes out of the joint a hipped-up dork, still quivering beneath his faux tough-guy exterior. He ditches his old pals and winds up wowing the kids at his new school, including the head cheerleader (Eliza Dushku), who has her own dork secrets to keep buried. In all, Pygmalion with acne, featuring cameos by Gene Simmons, Tony Hawk, Henry Rollins, Vanilla Ice, and Lyle Lovett.
But rather than labor over The New Guy's copious flaws -- it's amazing this thing even sticks to celluloid -- instead savor the venality and cynicism that allow a film like this to be greenlit in the first place. Consider the people behind it -- not merely Roth, but also director Ed Decter and executive producer John J. Strauss (both of There's Something About Mary), writer David Kendall (The Growing Pains Movie), and producer Todd Garner (Pearl Harbor, Gone in 60 Seconds). All exist as proof that once you get your foot in the door in Hollywood, you're set for life -- no matter what kind of offal you shove under an exec's face.