Sony // 1985 // 100 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 11th, 2004
"Don't get me wrong. It's not like I've never had sex before. I've had lots of sex. It's just that now I'd like to try it with a partner." -- Buddy (Billy Jayne)
Everyone knows that being 18 ain't easy. Now try being 18, and a guy, but not just ANY guy, a guy who's actually a girl! Sound confusing? Not if you're Just One Of The Guys! Theresa "Terri" Griffith (Joyce Hyser, Greedy) is a high school senior with aspirations of becoming a top-notch writer. When one of her reports fails to land her the chance at a journalistic internship she assumes it has to do more with her being a girl and less to do with her skills. Furious, Terri takes drastic measures: she cuts her hair, takes off the make-up, and dresses up as a guy!
Going undercover at a competing high school, Terri quickly learns that being a full-blooded male isn't as easy as it seems. First, Terri finds herself in bad standing with the school bully, Greg Tolan (the irreplaceable William Zabka, The Karate Kid). Then, she inadvertently attracts the attentions of the beautiful but oblivious Sandy (Sherilyn Fenn, Twin Peaks). Even worse, Terri befriends one of the school's less popular students, Rick (Clayton Rohner, The Relic), and turns him into a bona fide beefcake. Terri's friendship with Rick leads to an attraction which becomes quite awkward because a) Rick thinks Terri is a guy, and b) Terri already has a super hunky college boyfriend whose patience is running out. Terri's oversexed brother Buddy (Billy Jayne) thinks she's nuts. But Terri's about to show everyone that anything a man can do, a woman can do better -- even while wearing a jock strap.
I suspect that if I looked up Just One Of The Guys in the Guinness Book of World Records, I'd find it under "Most Viewed Movie On Cable TV." Over the last 15 years, I've come across this film at least twice a week, showing on two different stations in any given month. As the saying goes, it's always five o'clock somewhere, and wherever that is you can bet they're showing Just One Of The Guys.
Though it may not feature Molly Ringwald or have John Hughes name attached to it, Just One Of The Guys is one of the most beloved and entertainingly funny movies from 1980s. Who doesn't remember at least one scene from this gender bending comedy? What's not to love about a movie featuring a girl in drag, the tough guy charisma of William Zabka, and a gratuitous boob shot in a film with a PG rating? The draw to Just One of the Guys is easy: memorable performances by the leads (Hyser, Zabka, Rohner and Jayne), a cheesy rock and roll soundtrack, and frantic moments of slapstick confusion.
Somewhere buried inside of Just One Of The Guys is a lesson of social importance -- women are just as capable as men are -- though it's often obscured by all the goofiness and sex crazed characters. Not that I'm complaining. In lieu of these hard hitting themes, we get zany comedy bits like Terri covering up her secret from two parties while in the same house, Buddy's attempt at seducing a fellow classmate by proclaiming "let's get naked," and -- of course -- the old "guy and girl kiss while crowd thinks it's really two guys" moment. Classic.
While Hyser is very good (and frighteningly convincing as the male version of Terri), it's really Billy Jayne who steals the show as her wisecracking, sexually frustrated brother Buddy (Terri: "Aren't you embarrassed?" Buddy: "Nope. I'm horny. Horny will kick embarrassment's ass anytime."). But that's not all! You also get William Zabka playing the exact same role from The Karate Kid. If Judd Nelson's trademark '80s character was the smug outsider and Anthony Michael Hall the geek, Zabka will always be remembered as the bullying jock. Throw in a sultry Sherilyn Fenn as the woman who wants to sleep with Terri and you've got yourself one of the best casts this side of The Breakfast Club -- or at least Hot Dog: The Movie.
Does it sound as if I'm over-praising Just One Of The Guys? Could be. I have such a soft spot in my heart for the film that it's hard to see past all the nostalgia. Certainly this won't go down as on of the top five '80s teen comedies of all time, but it is a ton of fun -- and thank the good Lord I finally have a copy on DVD so I can watch it all the way through.
Arrgh! What was Columbia thinking when they transferred this film? 1.33:1 full frame? If there is any movie that deserves a widescreen transfer it's...well, probably something like Spider-Man -- or Lord of the Rings. BUT if there's any 1980s crossdressing movie that deserves a widescreen transfer it's Just One Of The Guys! Sadly, fans of the film will have to settle for this mediocre full frame version. The only plus side I see to this is that it preserves my memories of seeing it in the same format on cable. Otherwise, the picture looks just okay. The colors and black levels are in good shape, though the picture isn't half as sharp as it could be. Such is the disappointing life of the DVD fanatic.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in English. There isn't much to get excited about here. The sound mix is fairly bland and front heavy. Directional effects are non-existent, but since this is a wacky comedy from the '80s it's not a huge deal. All aspects of track are free of any major distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish and Korean subtitles.
If all Columbia gave us was a full frame transfer, do you really think we'd be lucky enough to get any worthwhile extra features? Of course not. All that's been included on this disc are a few measly theatrical trailers. Blah.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated PG