Movie review

The Girl Next Door
Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert,
Timothy Olyphant, James Remar

Director : Luke Greenfield

The Girl Next DoorAll straight men want to sleep with women, right? And all of them given half the chance would want to sleep with a porn star right? So what if a former porn star moved in next door to you and you fell head over heels in love with her, and yes, you wanted to sleep with her - what would you do? That is the idea of The Girl Next Door.

Matthew, played by Emile Hirsch, is a straight A student who over-achieves at college and wants to be the next president of the United States. He is not popular, but has two geeky friends Eli (Chris Marquette) a wannabe filmmaker, and Klitz (Paul Dano), an uptight kid to hang out with. But when Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next-door and he sees her getting changed one night through his window and falls for her at once. We know that she is intelligent, fun, and independent but just happens to have been a successful top porn star who is taking some time out to reassess her life and maybe quit the business to become a wholesome member of society. But the path of true love is never smooth and you know this is not going to be your ordinary film. So if they both meet then all will be well in the world surely?

Teen comedies are a dime a dozen nowadays, and for every American Pie there is a Stealing Harvard, but this film is worth seeing even if it does come across like a man's masturbation fantasy - which is exactly what it really is! I mean what kind of 15-certificate film would feature porn stars sucking off the lead character's dad, wet t-shirts, teenagers talking about beating their eggs, and flesh - lots of flesh! This has got it all, but what it has also got is a heart at the centre of it all.
    It is this old story of a comedy of errors that works so well in America but manages to annoy the rest of the world when put out there. There is a twisted charm to the film that takes elements of classic teen films like Porkies, Weird Science and The Breakfast Club and mixes them all up to produce a bastard child that will appeal to all boys from 14 up to an age when they should know better, but has nothing really for women of any age to identify with.
    This is totally a boys' film from start to finish. There are silly set pieces involving dildo shaped porn awards, the principal of the college's pool, a speech at a ceremony with an ecstasy-laced Matthew, and to top it all a visit to a porn convention in Las Vegas. There is everything here to keep boys happy for hours when it comes out on DVD (excuse this one) but more than enough laughs and good-natured if sick humour to spend 90 odd minutes with in the company of friends in a darkened cinema.

Elisha Cuthbert who plays Danielle (who you may know as the ever in danger Kim Bauer from TV's 24) is great in her role, and amazingly for a porn star manages to show hardly anything of herself in the film. She's sweet to watch and has some cracking dialogue. Conversely, Hirsch as Matthew is annoying to me; you don't really care about him as he is such a goody-goody that I was hoping it would all blow up in his face and end badly.
    More amusing is Danielle's ex-manager Kelly, played by Timothy Olyphant (from indie hit Go) who steals the entire film from under everyone's noses with a dark comic performance and one of the film's tag lines, where he asks Matthew, "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" meaning what is Matthew willing to do to get Danielle back. Kelly is a dude; he takes the hero and his mates to a strip bar, makes them look cool at college and helps get them girls. For me he was the saving grace of this average comedy that started with a great idea and ended up being another American preachy parable like many before it.

The Girl Next Door is adequately directed by Luke Greenfield who brought us the Hollywood classic The Animal starring the Oscar winning Rob Schneider (sorry, wrong one) and from that you can judge what you want.
    If you want to see Elisha Cuthbert dressed in ‘not a lot', porn stars shaking their bits and silly jokes then go and see this film, but expect to have to sit through every teen movie cliché for the pleasure. I suggest you save your money and see it on DVD where at least you can pause the best bits!

:: Mark Cappuccio

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