The Girl Next Door (2004)

the girl next door IMDb

This is an interesting concept that explores the reality of what it would be like if every horny teenage boys fantasy came true. It struggles to be much more than a generic teen comedy. The original concept helps elevate it above some teen romps, but at the end of the day, The Girl Next Door has to resort to raunchy humour to get laughs.

Emile Hirsh plays Matthew, a senior in high school about to graduate and hopefully attend Georgetown University if he can get an exclusive scholarship. Things get complicated when Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door and starts to distract Matthew. The two begin a relationship, only for Matthew to find out that she is a popular porn star. Things get further complicated when Danielle’s ex (Timothy Olyphant) and former film producer come to town to force her to rejoin the industry she is trying to forget. Matthew must convince her that she can leave this life forever if she wants too, while also trying to get his scholarship.

This film is funny. Hirsh is charming as Matthew. He is innocent enough that you believe he’d have no idea that there was a real life adult film actress living next door to him. Cuthbert is ok, she’s really just there to look good, and she does a good job of that. The best part of the film for me though, was Timothy Olyphant. He is able to be both charming and terrifying as the porn film producer. His performance is definitely the highlight for me.

Despite a really original idea, and an interesting twist ending, The Girl Next Door struggles to be much more than a generic teen comedy.

Rating: C+

For a movie that was advertised as a raunchy teen flick, The Girl Next Door is actually more of a romantic comedy. Unfortunately this is where the surprises end. This movie is ordinary, no matter how you choose to classify it.

The basic premise of this film is definitely one cooked up in a teenage boy’s brain: straight A student Matthew (Emile Hirsh) befriends his attractive new next door neighbor, Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert), only to discover she is a porn star. I’m sure this happens often in real life, but the rest of the plot– especially Matthew convincing Danielle to leave the biz– is less likely. I do appreciate that this is where the fantasy ends, though. Despite the lead actress playing a porn star she never gets naked. Still, most of jokes are crude innuendo and a lot of the movie is full of teen flick cliches, making the whole thing feel tired and played out.

One thing I did enjoy is the sex positive aspect of this script. The big “twist” ending is that Matthew and his friends partner with a porn producer to film a sexual education film that teens can relate to and might actually learn from. As a surprise ending it’s a bit lame (the movie tries to trick the audience into thinking the kids are filming a porno, which makes little sense in context of the story), but as far as sending a message about sex-ed in America it works. Many teens are learning about sex from porn, the last place they should be turning without some sort of comprehensive discussion of reality vs fantasy, safety, etc. to place what they’re seeing in proper context.

Still, anything good about this script is bogged down by cliche and poor acting (I really only liked Timothy Olyphant. He plays a likable jerk really well.). The Girl Next Door barely kept my attention, and I was glad when it was over.

Rating: D+

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