By Marc S. Sanders
Okay. Okay. No need to throw darts my way. Sorry, but I love the 80s teen comedy Just One Of The Guys.
People please!!!!! Please understand my position on this subject. It’s Joyce Hyser!!!! One of my top three crushes from adolescence – Joyce Hyser. Joyce Freakin’ Hyser!!!!!
Now the irony is that while I have-yes, still have, and my wife has accepted this-a crush on Joyce Hyser the point of this film directed by Lisa Gottlieb is that lead character Terry needs to prove that she is more than just good looks. Terry is not just a hot chick. Terry has a brain, and to prove that she has the potential to be a fantastic journalist, she will register in another local high school where she will submit her article that’ll award her a summer internship at the Sun Tribune newspaper. Only thing is to keep her looks from getting in the way, she’ll have to register as a male student.
All the trappings of comedy cross dressing occur like using boys bathrooms and avoiding jock strap inspections from the gym teacher. She also has to put up with keeping her sex starved brother Buddy (Billy Jacoby) from teasing and revealing her secret. As well, her studly college boyfriend can never find out. An unwelcome crush (Sherilyn Fenn) on her male persona is trouble too. Oh yeah, and the typical 80s cinematic bully, actor William Zabka, has returned for the millionth time. There’s a lot packed into this cute flick that’s a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Gottlieb’s film also steals elements from Jane Austen. The confused romance angle occurs. Terri decides to make Rick Morehouse (Clayton Rohner) the subject of her article. He’s a James Brown loving guy with no style and a crush on the bully’s girlfriend. Terri transforms him while she becomes Rick’s best guy pal. Only problem is that while Terri is working on finding a prom date for Rick, she’s also falling for him.
There’s a sweetness to Just One Of The Guys that always touched me as a teenager. Joyce Hyser as Terry is written more down to earth than characters from other teen 80s comedies. She has ambition and the movie stays with that theme. It’s important that Hyser is positively appealing in the looks department because it’s the Achilles heel of her character. Too often people are judged by their appearance. Her journalism teacher even suggests that she should pursue modeling with next to no shot at being a journalist. Interesting to see this scene in 2020 following the changes that sprung from “Me Too.” Frankly, the scene seems to have more impact today. It’s unfair to think that way about women. Just One Of The Guys with a script from Dennis Feldman & Jeff Franklin knew that well enough from the mid 1980s.
The film also has great side characters. It does really well in the geek gag department. One loves tiny reptiles, that he keeps housed in his pockets. Two others seem to share the same brain on a B movie science fiction level. They’re especially hilarious. Plus, the film boasts a zippy soundtrack that is one of my favorites.
I’ll also proudly say that the infamous topless scene that comes at the end actually seems necessary here, and not exploitive. It almost has to be done when the reveal is finally dawned upon Rick.
That and one of the best film ending on screen kisses make Just One Of The Guys one of my favorite 1980s byproducts.