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childhood classic

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do you remember 'just one of the guys?'

it was on tv last night. i hadn't watched it since it was run in marathons on hbo and comedy central (ah, same owner, coincidence?) all through high school. i loved this movie growing up, and i never really figured out why until last night. it's so obvious, really.

unlike other body switching/mistaken identity movies of the time, this one didn't find it's humor in the usual, cliche places (see 'just one of the girls' or 'ladybugs') - and joyce hyser's performance as terry is a surprisingly credible girl-playing-boy transformation, up there with hilary swank. joyce really deserved a better career. where is she? i can't even find a current picture of her - all i get on google image search are pics of the famous 'titty flash' at the end of the film.

what really sort of subliminally grabbed me as a kid while watching this movie was that, at the time, it was the closest thing to a gay romance on television. the film spoke directly to the high school experience of being gay, and falling in love with your straight guy best friend. joyce made a convincing boy - and she slowly falls in love with rick, "terry's" best friend. she tries to help rick get dates by updating his wardrobe, giving him a new hairstyle, and helping him find his inner confidence - all in a very 'queer eye for the straight guy' kinda way.

clayton rohner's transformation as rick is almost as surprising as hyser's - he goes from bland to knockout in ways that are usually reserved for 'she's all that,' 'take off her glasses and she's beautiful' plot points. and rick didn't even have glasses. clayton has worked a lot, and was in 'weeds' on showtime as the soccer coach.

and of course william zabka, blonde bad boy of the 80's. who didn't love seeing him get face kicked in karate kid, and who didn't secretly want to be attacked by him? ok, maybe just me. he now has a music company and was nominated for an oscar for screenwriting. here he is now:

also notable, is that this was one of sherilyn fenn's first films. i loved sherilyn fenn, especially after twin peaks, and i thought she did a great job as elizabeth taylor (that is, until i rewatched some of it during a lifetime rerun). in any case, she's another one that should have had a better career. she works a lot, but everything she does goes straight to video.

but back to the film - there was something gratifying as a closeted gay high school kid about seeing a 'boy' in a mainstream film go through the necessary steps to hide his true sexual orientation. he loves his friend, but can't show it. and it comes out in unexpected places - as when terry brushes rick's hair out of his face. and what homo didn't have the fantasy of being able to finally, at the prom, blurt out to -that guy- just how much you've loved him all along? the gender bending is of course, part of the point of the film, but deep down, it was a disappointment that terry was a girl at all. an equally compelling and humorous movie could have been made about a 'real boy' (how pinocchio does that sound?) going through the same things.

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