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The Boyfriend School (1990)

Don't Tell Her It's Me (original title)
PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 21 September 1990 (USA)
2:19 | Trailer
Cartoonist Gus has survived cancer treatment and now his romance novelist sister tries to find him a woman and guide him. Will they succeed?


Malcolm Mowbray


Sarah Bird (novel), Sarah Bird (screenplay)


Cast overview, first billed only:
Shelley Long ... Lizzie Potts
Steve Guttenberg ... Gus Kubicek
Jami Gertz ... Emily Pear
Kyle MacLachlan ... Trout
Mädchen Amick ... Mandy
Kevin Scannell Kevin Scannell ... Mitchell Potts
Perry Anzilotti ... Hairdresser
Nada Despotovich Nada Despotovich ... Receptionist
Beth Grant ... Babette
Don Hood ... Deputy
Bill Applebaum Bill Applebaum ... Man in Bar
O'Neal Compton ... Gas Station Attendant
Ron Orbach ... Bobbi
Stacy Areheart Stacy Areheart ... Teenage Girl
Bert Hogue Bert Hogue ... Airport Security Guard
Learn more

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Gus is a fat cartoonist that recently won a battle against cancer, which explains his baldness. But he is also lonely. Therefore, his caring sister tries to set him up with suitable women. But to do so, she must turn him into an irresistible man. When he falls in love with Emily, Gus takes the identity of a mysterious biker from New Zealand. Written by Steve Richer <sricher@sympatico.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A romantic comedy about true love under false pretenses. See more »


Comedy | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


In 2012, Sarah Bird, author of the film's source novel ("The Boyfriend School") and screenwriter of this film, told Texas Monthly Magazine "My exceedingly mediocre screenplay was made into an exceedingly mediocre movie." See more »


Gus's "Maori" pendant bears no resemblance to actual Maori artwork. See more »


Lizzie Potts: Well it will all be history soon anyway. At five o' clock sharp, when he leaves his place on Caleechie Drive. 909 Caleechie Drive.
See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Alien from L.A. (1993) See more »


My Way
(Comme d'Habitude)
Music by Claude François and Jacques Revaux
French lyrics by Gilles Thibaut
English lyrics by Paul Anka
Published by Management Agency & Music Publishing, Inc., BMI S.D.R.M.
See more »

User Reviews

A truly adorable movie.
18 June 2005 | by 4jfmn4e02See all my reviews

This is a romance with a top cast of experienced actors who really click together. Shelly Long also starred as a class act in 'Troop Beverly Hills' as a fashion-minded Wilderness Girl's (sort of like the Girl Scouts) leader. In this movie, she is a top-selling romance writer with the pen name of Vivica Lamoreaux.

In "Don't Tell Her It's Me", which I did read the book, the movie starts with Gus, a cartoon artist and survivor of a year of radiation treatments and chemotherapy who is finally cured but still looks all swollen up like a living Mr. Potatohead. He is bearing up under his awful looks with the help of his irrepressible and upbeat older sister, Shelly Long as Lizzie Potts.

What makes this movie so transcendental and such a grabber is that with the help of Lizzie, Gus is transformed from a hopeless reject into every woman's dream of the perfect romance rogue. He works off the fat and swollenness, and his hair grows back, and he becomes--well--shall we say, Steve Guttenburg at his lady-killer best? The fact that he is not a real rogue, but that Lizzie is helping him to look and act like one, moves the viewer to transports as Gus actually achieves the look more completely than a real rogue could possibly manage. In fact, he retains his intrinsic 'niceness' while outwardly making a masterly showing of being the ultimate romantic rake, a motorcycle-riding long-hair who goes by the name of 'Lobo Marunga'.

Gus' intended target, Emily Pear, on whom he is hopelessly stuck, is played by lovely Jami Gertz, who is torn inwardly between whether to fall for -and permanently tie the knot with- her secretly unfaithful newspaper boss, Trout, played by Kyle MacLachlan, or to go for Lobo, the totally unexpected wild card in her otherwise dead-end life. Emily is endlessly polite to a fault throughout the movie, as well as sexy, articulate, compassionate, and a total fox. She affects this fazed-out look at times in perfect response to various situational predicaments which is infinitely expressive.

The transformation of potato-Gus into lean muscular rogue Lobo pulls at the heart, as a hopeless reject becomes every lonely woman's fantasy ideal, and it is done believably in the personification of Steve Guttenberg. There is even a medical doctor listed in the film credits at the end, as a consultant on the disease Gus is recovering from. Also, the special effects and make-up department succeed in making Gus look like a real medical patient recovering from the disease. It's not fakey at all. He really looks it.

My trust never felt betrayed by the actors' performances, or how they portrayed themselves. Shelly Long has an amazing range of facial expressions, with her eyes the most expressive of all. Steve Guttenberg makes the most fantastic and enjoyable changes in appearance from potato Gus to lean heart-stealer Lobo, and finally to super Mr. Nice Guy. Jami Gertz has a way with silent looks that must be seen to be believed. Kyle MacLachlan is a very funny two-timer in an off-handed way that is never affected and actually humorous. Not to be overlooked is beautiful American-born Madchen Amick, Trout's secret playmate, who is actually half German, a quarter Norwegian, and a quarter Swedish; as well as Lizzie Potts' husband, Mitchell Potts, played by equally funny and experienced Kevin Scannell; the married stunt team of Tony and Jeannie Epper, the authentic motorcyclist John 'Speed' Finlay, and others.

The movie makes skillful use of contrasts and contrivances, such as the little boy on a bicycle watching Lobo dance with Jamie, a boy who might well one day become a future 'Lobo' lady-killer himself. Also, while Lobo is competing with Trout for Emily, Lizzie Potts is cheerfully hanging stuffed trout decorations on her living room wall. And it's wrong to 'borrow' someone else's motorcycle without permission, but it's more 'okay' somehow if you hook and tear your dress on it first (like; it 'owes' you something, right?) and are deeply in love with its owner and desperate to get him back.

There is no down-and-out nitty-gritty genuine hatred of anyone by anyone in this movie, and the non-stop competition for Emily's searching heart reaches awesome levels. It's a very adorable story with the ultimate happy ending.

The book this movie is based on is titled "The Boyfriend School". The original movie and VHS were titled "Don't Tell Her It's Me", but when they re-released it on DVD, they re-adopted the title "The Boyfriend School".

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Release Date:

21 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Boyfriend School See more »

Filming Locations:

Charleston, South Carolina, USA


Box Office


$6,700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$531,714, 23 September 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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