THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
Review by Michael Jacobson
Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant
Director: Luke Greenfield
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2004
these girls go to your school?”
no Mrs. Kidman…they’re porn stars.”
Cuthbert is some kind of beauty. The
moment she first strolls across the screen in The Girl Next Door just
feels like one of those iconic movie moments in the making, like Bo Derek
running in slow motion on the beach in 10. And throughout the first half hour or so of the film, she’s
photographed so luminously that I just sat and stared, and thought to myself
that even if this turned out to be the stupidest movie ever, I wouldn’t mind.
the end of the film? I minded.
Girl Next Door had all the ingredients for an attractive, fun romantic comedy, but no
recipe to follow. It’s too much
of some things and not enough of others, leaving the viewers with bad overall
tastes in their mouths. It
sometimes hints at sweetness before dousing you with mean-spiritedness. It toys with romance before hitting you upside the head with
the implausible. It even teases you
with the promise of overt sexuality, but damned if the filmmakers couldn’t
even do THAT right. What’s there
is just enough to be slightly enticing, but done so badly as to be ultimately
aggravating and annoying.
Kidman (Hirsch) is a senior in high school.
He’s class president, has recently been accepted to Georgetown
University, and is hoping to earn a scholarship to pay for it by giving a speech
on…ready for this?…moral fiber. He’s
the kind of sweet kid that’s always followed the straight and narrow path, and
has been too unsure of himself to really try to live life to the fullest.
night, he sees the beautiful Danielle (Cuthbert) next door, and is instantly
smitten. How will he ever meet her?
Well, he doesn’t have to worry about that…she catches him ogling her
through her window while she’s undressing.
of being mad, she gets a mild revenge in the most obvious way possible, but soon
the two strike it up for real, as she begins to show him ways of having a little
bit of dangerous fun.
come his two goon friends with the surprise of Matthew’s life:
Danielle is a porn star! Or
at least an ex-porn star who’s trying to start life over.
Does the revelation taint Matthew’s view of her?
Well, of course, but at some point in there, the movie becomes less
interested in exploring the dynamics of their relationship and more interested
in ushering in seedier story aspects…like when Danielle’s sleazeball
producer Kelly (Olyphant) shows up to try and bring her back into the fold of
the adult entertainment industry.
presence allows the movie to go where it otherwise couldn’t have, since Ms.
Cuthbert refused to bare all for the camera…namely, to a porn movie convention
in Las Vegas, a lap dance bar, and ultimately, to a new adult flick being filmed
right at Matthew’s senior prom. It’s
all a bit over the top, very distracting from what came before, and overall
quite unsatisfying. It’s like the
picture planted some promising seeds at the beginning but then urinated on them
instead of watering them.
aspects are pretty unbelievable, to be sure, but others just downright defy all
logic, like a bank teller giving away a large sum of money to someone whose name
isn’t even on the account and has no ID.
Uh, huh. Or the bait and
switch with the prom porn movie, which stretches honesty to the point you can
actually hear it snap.
two lead stars have charm, but aren’t allowed to develop anything beyond the
script’s ludicrous demands. I
liked them early on. By the end, I
just didn’t care anymore. Happily
ever after? Beats me.
Ever happy is a better question.
Cuthbert captured the attention of America with her running stint as
television’s loveliest damsel in distress on the hit series 24.
Watching the way she lights up a screen, I have no doubt she has it
in her to be the next ‘it’ girl. But
she needs to pick her next project more carefully than this…one where
hopefully the scriptwriter will love her as much as the cinematographer.
I’d love her to be my girl next door, but this film is enough to make
me want to move.
anamorphic transfer is beautiful, with full natural coloring and clean, crisp
images and detail from beginning to end. Light
scenes or dark, it doesn’t make a difference; compression, grain or artifacts
never interfere with the viewing pleasure.
5.1 soundtrack is mostly dialogue oriented, but a great score of songs gives it
some extra kick and dynamic range. Tunes
like “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie and “Lucky Man” by The
Verve inject life into the picture at some of the points where it starts to
extras include 16 deleted/extended scenes, including the original ending, a gag
reel, two featurettes including a making-of, a photo gallery, and some specific
scene commentaries with Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert separately.