the premise of the new comedy The Girl Next Door
is every male teenager’s dream: falling for a girl who
moves next door who happens to be—what else?—a former
hardcore pornography actress. However, the girl moving
in next door in my teenage dream was probably more along
the lines of Faye Valentine. But Faye’s a cartoon, and
of course thinking a doodled character in a cartoon
is hot is nuts.
of this film is Danielle (Cuthbert), and the
teenage dreamer is the over-achieving high-schooler,
Matthew (Hirsch). Graduation and prom are around
the corner, and while most of the seniors are going
nuts, having fun, and creating wild memories of their
last four years, Matthew seems rather regretful that
he’s spent most of his time studying. Matthew has become
the class president and was accepted into his chosen
college, but he cannot attend unless he gets awarded
a special scholarship that is given to a person of utmost
“moral fiber.” Despite all this, Matthew seems to find
his risk-free life rather boring. So a free-spirited
liberal, Danielle, comes along to break the conservative
Matthew out of his shell and turn his world upside down.
really want to buy into the film at first, but not because
of the porn star content. I personally feel that the
premise of an aggressive woman pushing a restrained
man out of his social bubble has grown really tired
on film. Overall, that’s the biggest drawback the film
suffers. The movie knows the conventions and doesn’t
stray from them at all. That’s not a bad thing necessarily,
but it makes the story utterly predictable.
up to story once the narrative changed gears a bit—after
Matthew finds out Danielle used to be a porn star. In
the course of their relationship, Matthew makes a mistake.
Then, Danielle’s old producer, the very sleazy Kelly
(the charismatic Olyphant) shows up ready to
return Danielle to the adult film business. So while
Danielle has broken Matthew out of his shell, it seems
that Matthew needs to re-build a shell for Danielle.
cast is very strong, especially Matthew’s two best friends
(their “tripod”), Eli (Marquette) and Klitz (Dano).
And yes, the fact that Dano’s character is named Klitz
is fairly milked for all it’s worth. Marquette really
shines as porn-obsessed, amateur filmmaker Eli, a really
big talker when it comes to the ladies who’s powerless
in any real situation. Marquette’s performance is a
contrast to the shy and restrained Dano as… Klitz (it
just feels so dirty when I type that name out, yet I
can’t stop doing it).
impressed by the performance of 19-year-old Hirsch,
still somewhat of a newcomer. I’m not a fan of Elisha
Cuthbert, who many see every week, usually getting tied
up by some insane deviant or running toward the foreground
wearing a skin-tight shirt on “24” as Kim Bauer. However,
Cuthbert does a serviceable job here, and she’s a knock-out,
though I can’t say I truly bought her as a porn star.
back to the conventions of this film, another annoying
aspect was the derivative soundtrack which seems to
use almost every pop song from just about every other
romantic teen comedy that’s come down the pike in the
’80s and ’90s. What I’d give for filmmakers to be bold
for once and use something like The Seatbelts
or The Pillows in a mainstream Hollywood film.
Just some kind of music people have not heard
on film before, much like what T Bone Burnett
and the Coen Brothers did with the O Brother,
Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Girl Next Door is a fun, humorous film with some
cute actors and heartening themes, but for the most
part, it’s still a slave to the conventions of its genre.
I must say I was impressed by the work of director Luke
Greenfield, whose first feature was The Animal,
probably one of the worst movies of 2001. So at least
he’s come a long way since that stinker. Sorry Mr.
“The Vile One” Harris