Sunday, August 31, 2014

CWE: "Just One of the Guys" (1985)

Summary: After losing a newspaper internship contest, Terry dresses as a guy and starts attending another school in order to apply again and prove that it was sexism that caused her first rejection.

This movie must have been on cable 1,000 times when I was young and I must have watched in 900 of those times. Before my current interest in movies with interesting gay characters, I clearly had an interest in movies about girls who dress up as boys. Put this one with "Dragonslayer" as one of my favorites when I was a kid.

I'm writing some of these notes before I actually start watching the movie -- I'm catching up on last week's "Days of Our Lives" first -- and trying to decide how I feel about it. I more or less remember it as a slightly atypical '80s teen sex comedy (only without most of the sex). But I'm thinking about it and it actually has a relatively strong feminist slant, at least in some aspects. There are a lot of not so great elements of it, I'm sure, but Terry starts out as pretty privileged and learns not that she has to work harder because she's a woman, but that she needs to work harder to be a better writer generally. She gets a wake up call that her frat boy college boyfriend likes her for who he wants her to be, not who she wants to be, and he has no real interest in her career aspirations. She finds friendship in people who she routinely ignored in her own life, and while Terry was never really a bully, she sees how she regularly dismissed it when her old friends/boyfriend bullied others. In the end, of course, she falls for the nerdy guy (who's not really so nerdy under those glasses -- trope switch alert that still manages to completely uphold the trope!).
  • Wow, Terry's long hair is kinda awful. But I have to remember -- 1985.
  • I knew very few girls in high school who wore tight skirts and high heels to school regularly, so I'm always a little annoyed when I see all the outfits in high school movies, but then ... I did know some people who did. And a lot of the side/background players are wearing jeans and t-shirts, so it's actually probably not that bad.
  • Joyce Hyser is an interested choice to play Terry. She needs to be pretty and sexy enough to be considered the "hot girl," but not so much that she can't successfully pull off pretending to be a guy. They put her in lots of revealing clothes to emphasize the sexy.
  • The way they regularly ignore Buddy's horrible sexism is so icky. Although Terry does sorta call him on it.
  • She should be a model? Again, Joyce Hyser is very pretty but I can't quite see that. She doesn't have the height, for one.
  • I could do without the lesson on how to scratch your balls. And the terrible walking lessons.
  • William Zabka! The traditional 1980s movie high school villain.
  • Oh, wait, Rick the nerdy guy doesn't actually have glasses. I thought that he did. He just has what today would be considered a very hipster sense of style.
  • Terry also needs to stop talking to people. It's an interesting look at male/female social response, actually -- she constantly feels the need to be friendly, to explain, to be part of the social group. I'm not saying that all women feel this way, of course, but a girl like Terry, who has been popular and who has probably had those traditional social behaviors drilled into her, finds herself instinctively behaving in the expected way.
  • I also appreciate that they aren't ignoring the reality of her trying to pass as a boy -- going into the men's room and finding urinals and no stalls on the doors, trying to figure out how to get dressed in the locker room (although they have WAY too much time in there. Classes are usually like an hour, right? Just the locker room stuff takes forever). Yeah, it's largely played for laughs, but I'm glad it's not ignored.
  • Also, why is that kid wearing a crop top in gym class?
  • There's a "guys have struggles too" message here.
  • I always remember Terry's suggestion to replace a missing earring back with a pencil eraser. I may have actually done that once.
  • I have a very hard time believing that any school would let a student carry live animals -- of any kind, let alone a snake -- around.
  • The gay slurs can also stop, although they feel real for a 1980's high school experience.
  • Took a break to get dressed and go grocery shopping. And I'm dying my hair, so we will be interrupted again.
  • At least they introduce the idea that Terry going on a date with Sandy is unkind. Jill being in 6th grade is deeply creepy.
  • Interestingly, I noticed that the patio doors were not closed all the way in an earlier scene, and now that's how Terry gets back in the house.
  • Although Terry's boyfriend is a bit of a jerk, I feel kinda bad for him -- why can't Terry just tell him? Or, at least, tell him that she's working on a project and will be out of touch for a week or so.
  • Look! Rick was pretty all along
  • It's interesting to see Deborah make the same excuses for her boyfriend that Terry typically makes for hers.
  • Rick's new look is so painfully 1985. Popped collar!
  • Also, Rick is starting to think that Terry likes him.
  • The days when random people could just wander into a school...
  • Someone needs to teach Buddy about personal space.
  • Wow, that extra's shorts are really short.
  • Also, Deborah needs a bra.
  • "Kevin really likes this outfit." The skirt is cute, but the top is not good.
  • Yeah, calling journalism a hobby is not the way to your girlfriend's heart.
  • Isn't hitting on a girl at her prom while she's dancing with another guy at least a little skeezy?
  • What's with all the fingerless gloves?
  • I think Terry sounds her girliest when she screams.
  • "Where did you people learn to fight?"
  • Naturally, Rick is a good fighter too.
  • The gay panic isn't appreciated, but at least Rick isn't a complete jerk about it.
  • The only actual topless scene - Terry flashing Rick.
  • I guess kissing a guy in front of your boyfriend is a pretty clear sign that you're breaking up.
  • Maybe it's just me, but I rarely sit around writing in my underwear.
  • Electric typewriter! Hi 1985!
  • So I guess it's just OK that Terry missed a few weeks of school?
  • "Wait a minute. I'm the guy here. Let me just try this, huh?" I could do without the emphasis that Rick is the man in this relationship now.

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