In The New Guy (2002), one of the opening monologue’s lines succinctly sums up the basic plot of this Grade C high school comedy:
“In high school, popularity ain’t a contest, it’s a war, and Dizzy Harrison is its greatest casualty.”
At the start of his senior year — and start of the film — Dizzy (DJ Qualls) is humiliated at his old high school, and tries to start over as the cool “new guy” at another school. The scene immediately after the opening credits — a mere five minutes into the film — is a memorable one, showcasing perhaps the crassest, most twisted behavior ever from a reel librarian!
And on that note, I must warn you that about very sexually frank words and descriptions below, which may not be suitable for work.
And… now back to the humiliation. It’s the first day at school, and there are multiple tables along the main foyer, most likely set up for school orientation. After Dizzy starts flirting with a high school cheerleader, a couple of jocks horn in to point out his “pup tent” and proceed to pull Dizzy’s underpants over his head and spin him around toward an older lady sitting at a nearby table.
The old lady (Justine Johnston), dressed in pearls and a vest, screams “What is this?!” and reaches out her hands toward Dizzy and grabs at what is closest to her.
Dizzy, understandably in shock, stammers out, “Mrs. Whitman! It’s my…”
Grabbing his penis, Mrs. Whitman screams, “It’s mine now!” and “You can’t bring loaded weapons to school!”
Pushing Dizzy backwards while she moves forward on her rolling chair, she ends the short scene by standing up and proclaiming, “I’m showing this to Principal Zaylor.”
And here is Dizzy’s blood-curdling reaction, screaming in pain and humiliation at this living nightmare:
You really do feel for the guy, don’t you?
Although less than a minute long, that scene packs quite a punch. And in some ways, it’s quite clever. (Not classy, to be sure, but clever.) For example, the start of the film likens high school to a war. And in that shot above, one is reminded of a gladiator scene. After such a debilitating beginning, will Dizzy be able to rise up (ahem) and become a hero?
However, in that opening scene, it’s clearly Mrs. Whitman who emerges as the victor. And she knows it.
But how do we know Mrs. Whitman’s a librarian?
The next couple of scenes help illustrate that. First up is a scene at the doctor’s, where Dizzy reveals that he “can pee around a corner.” Hopped up on pain meds, he then creates a disturbance at the local mall and wakes up in jail next to Luther (Eddie Griffin), who begins describing how similar high school is to jail.
Luther: I seen terrible things.
Dizzy: Yesterday, an 80-year-old librarian broke my penis.
Luther: [Pause.] You win.
Personally, I don’t think anyone wins watching this film.
Dizzy also gets to utter this oh-so-eloquent phrase, “If you break your dick in front of the whole school, they remember.”
And remember they do. After a state football championship, the jock football player from his old school replays the video of the librarian incident at Dizzy’s new school. On the big screen. At the Homecoming dance. And being teenagers, everyone starts shouting, “Broke dick. Broke dick.” Just in case we had missed that point earlier.
Ah, the legacy of an 80-year-old reel librarian.
In real life, Justine Johnston, who played Mrs. Whitman, was 85 years old at the making of this film. She also played a blink-and-you’ll-miss-that-librarian in Running on Empty (1988) — see also this post about repeat offenders — but she makes a more, shall we say, lasting impression in this film. Her turn as Mrs. Whitman effectively sets in motion the impetus for the entire film. (I know, that line sounded kind of dirty, but it’s not!)
She serves the role of Comic Relief — we the audience are invited to laugh both at her AND her unwitting victim, Dizzy — and her memorable performance, although only a minute long, lands her in the Class III category. After all, her actions set up the plot for the rest of the movie! Her reel librarian, Mrs. Whitman, also joins other librarians on the loose, i.e. reel librarians never seen in libraries but only referred to as librarians by other characters.
And now, go put some ice on that.