Then, after some minor girl-gawking in The Big Green (1995), The Stupids (1996) and The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas (1996), he starred in Safety Patrol (1998), an unusual teen nerd comedy in which The Girl is an ally rather than a goal.
After transferring to a new school, Scout (Bug Hall) instantly acquires a girlfriend, cheerleader cum valedictorian Hanna (Alex McKenna). His heterosexuality established, we can get on to the main plot arc: a desire for homosocial fulfillment. Bug joins two all-male gangs, a lunch-table full of outcast Barneys, including the gay-vague "Walt Whitman," and the school's Safety Patrol, a goose-stepping paramilitary organization involved mostly in extortion and bullying. Its leader is the evil Kent (Philip Van Dyke), the principal's son.
When the Safety Patrol frames Scout for a series of petty thefts, he realizes who is true friends are, and sets out with the Barneys and Hanna to catch the real crook. In the process he remakes the Safety Patrol. No significant buddy bonding, but gay characters, sort of.
Becoming less awkward as he moved through adolescence, Bug took roles reminiscent of Mark Lester’s twenty years before, as naifs who nevertheless are swept up by strong, unconscious heterosexual passions. He played a fourteen-year old who gets his girlfriend pregnant in the indie film Skipped Parts (2000), a high school journalist who begins to “notice” the brainy girl-next-door in Get a Clue (2002), a fan obsessed with an older writer (Candace Bergen) in Footsteps (2003), and a high schooler struggling to lose his virginity in American Pie Presents: Book of Love (2009).
He was usually asked to appear in his underwear, or in a skimpy swimsuit.
No gay characters, but in Mortuary (2005), he played the homophobic bully who harasses Grady (Rocky Marquette).
Next stop: frontal nudity in a movie?