The 1985 Joyce Hyser gender-flip comedy still holds up today

By Drew Mackie
Updated April 26, 2015 05:30 PM
Columbia Pictures

It was thirty years ago this week that Joyce Hyser cropped her hair short and did a reverse-Tootsie in the teen comedy Just One of the Guys.

Hyser plays Terry Griffith, an aspiring writer who thinks she missed out on her dreams of a summer job writing for a newspaper. Her plan? Dress up as a boy at a new high school in hopes that her work will be judged on its merit, not dismissed as a result of her good looks.

Today, the film holds up. Hyser’s lines about how men would rather treat women as sex objects than equals apply just as well to 2015 as they did to 1985 – unfortunately.

Just One of the Guys confronts issues of gender roles, bullying, sexism, and just plain sex in ways you didn’t often see in teen films of the time and you still rarely see in teen films today. (And no, the similarly themed 2006 Amanda Bynes flick She’s the Man doesn’t come nearly as close.)

Check out the main reasons we’re still obsessed with Just One of the Guys to this day.

1. The opening credits

This is probably not how most people woke up in 1985. However, this is clearly how one should have woken up in 1985, Midnight Star soundtrack and all.

2. Terry’s righteous indignation

Though she has a life lesson or two heading her way, Terry perfectly articulates the anger that many young people feel when they realize that no, life doesn’t offer everyone the same opportunities. Importantly, she doesn’t let that stop her.

3. The "how to be a guy" scene

(Warning: There’s some NSFW language in this and other clips from the film. Teens talk like teens, after all. )

From bad posture to taking up more than your share of personal space, all the advice Terry gets from little brother Buddy (Billy Jayne) is dead-on. A key line: “All balls itch. It’s a fact.”

4. It captures the foul horror of a high school boys’ locker room

(Warning: It’s a locker room scene. There be butts.)

Even if you’re a guy and have spent time in an actual locker room, Just One of the Guys lets you experience it for the first time though Terry’s eyes. And it’s absolutely frightening.

5. It’s a testament to the power of nerd bonds

Willie and Phil cling to each other for survival. They can’t bear to be separated. (Willie, BTW, is played by Arye Gross in one of his earliest roles.)

6. A pre-Twin Peaks Sherilyn Fenn

Fenn is a bombshell in any era, but if your first awareness of her came as the saddle-shoes-wearing, retro-fab Audrey in Twin Peaks, it’s a treat to see her in all her ’80s glory as “Sandy the Fish Girl.”

7. Terry is allowed to have a sex drive

Terry doesn’t want to be treated as a sex object, but when she’s forced to be the locker room towel boy, she flips the tables on her male classmates and makes them the sex objects. You can decide for yourself how to feel about that, but either way the movie is getting at something fundamental about the way humans treat each other when sex is involved.

8. Terry has an awesome best friend

Girls Just Want to Have Fun isn’t the only ’80s movie to feature a solid female friendship. Sure, Denise (Toni Hudson) cracks jokes about Terry’s scheme, but she’s still supportive enough that she’s willing to go to prom as Terry’s date just to keep up the ruse. She demands a limo, of course. Wouldn’t you?

9. It has one of the best bully takedowns in an ’80s movie

Rick (Clayton Rohner) uses words – and cafeteria food – to put the meatheaded Greg (Billy Zabka) in his place. Key line: Popular girl Deborah (Deborah Goodrich) asking Greg, “Can’t you ever just be man enough to walk away?”

10. For your consideration: Billy Zabka as the ultimate ’80s teen villain

When Zabka’s character finally gets his comeuppance, the crowd cheers, of course. They probably saw The Karate Kid. To Zabka’s tough-guy credit, however, it takes no less than three of the film’s good guys to take him down: Terry, Buddy and then finally Rick.

11. The big reveal

Following the beach showdown, Terry reveals her ruse to Rick in a very attention-grabbing way: popping open her tuxedo shirt to reveal what’s underneath. (There actually is a GIF of this out there, but we’re not embedding it for obvious reasons.)

Props to the very understanding Rick, who initially assumes Terry’s big secret is that he’s gay. Rick doesn’t seem horrified, and that’s notable considering the scene in Teen Wolf, which came out just four months later, in which Stiles seems more uncomfortable at the thought of the main character being gay than being a werewolf.

12. The cast is still tight, 30 years later

Hyser, director Lisa Gottlieb, and most of the cast reunited this past January at Los Angeles’ Silent Movie Theater for an anniversary screening of the film. They seem as stoked to be there as the people in the audience do.

13. It’s got Full House cred

In case you felt like Just One of the Guys was chock-full of life lessons, you’re not wrong. One of the film’s two writers was Jeff Franklin, who later went on to create not only Full House but also Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper.

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