Just One Of The Guys gender-bends ’80s teen comedies

Just One Of The Guys gender-bends ’80s teen comedies

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: The Sundance hit The Spectacular Now has us thinking back on other teen romances.

Just One Of The Guys (1985)

A hybrid of Tootsie and Pygmalion that also helped pave the way for Soul Man (1986) and Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987), Just One Of The Guys purports to be about a fight for gender equality when really it’s just about a girl figuring out what she wants in a mate. Lisa Gottlieb’s entertainingly goofy film concerns a popular and pretty high-schooler (Joyce Hyser) who’s introduced via a long, drooling camera pan up her lingerie-clad body, and who during the film’s climax confirms her femininity by flashing her boobs—bookending concessions to a male audience otherwise forced to put up with her asexual androgyny during the majority of her saga. Determined to combat what she perceives as sexist discrimination when she loses out on a summer newspaper internship, Hyser decides to turn the tables by posing as a boy at another high school, a careerist plan aided by the fact that her parents are conveniently away for two weeks.

That ruse leads to predictable dilemmas involving bathroom urinals and locker-room hazing, and the story dispatches with any concern over whether women are as good as men when Hyser learns that her reporting skills actually aren’t up to snuff. Consequently, she concentrates most of her attention on Clayton Rohner, a friend she remakes into a desirable stud, only to discover that she has romantic feelings for him. Masculinity comes in many forms in Just One Of The Guys: sensitive (Rohner), steroidal and intolerant (Billy Zabka’s bully), rampantly libidinous (little brother Billy Jacoby), and chauvinistic and controlling (Leigh McCloskey as Hyser’s college-age boyfriend). Throughout, teen romance is presented as an amusing series of trial-and-error challenges in which triumph ultimately comes not from clothes, attitude, or popularity, but from being yourself. And though it ends on a happily-ever-after note that goes out of its way to re-establish traditional gender roles, the film is less a serious commentary on the battle of the sexes than a satisfyingly silly comedy about finding yourself in order to then find Mr. Right.

Availability: DVD, purchase from the standard digital providers, and disc delivery from Netflix.

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