The Girl Next Door movie review, Luke Greenfield, Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Nicholas Downs, Timothy Olyphant. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'The Girl Next Door'
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*** stars
109 minutes | Rated: R
WIDE: Friday, April 9, 2004
Directed by Luke Greenfield

Starring Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Nicholas Downs, Timothy Olyphant


Most bawdy comedies don't hold up as well without an audience laughing along with you in shock. But this one may beat that fate because - up to a point - its smarter and more character-driven. At any rate, a good rental of an under-seen flick.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 08.24.2004

  • Porn stories
  • Luke Greenfield
  • Emile Hirsch
  • Elisha Cuthbert
  • Timothy Olyphant

  • Documentary about a real
    porn star also called...
    ('00) "The Girl Next Door"

     LINKS for this film
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    Awkward teen scores with the porn star 'Next Door' in surprisingly astute comedy that takes cues from '80s sex romp

    By Rob Blackwelder

    A character-driven, cleverly risqué teen sex farce that has much more in common with "Risky Business" (the genre's high-water mark) than it does with the lowbrow body-fluid antics of the post-"American Pie" era, "The Girl Next Door" stars eye-popping Elisha Cuthbert (from TV's "24") as every nerdy teenager's dream come true: an alluringly sexy, accessibly sweet porn star who's just looking for a nice, normal boyfriend.

    As a 19-year-old knockout who has dipped her toe (and a whole lot more) into the adult entertainment biz and decided it's not for her, seemingly innocent Danielle (Cuthbert) makes a jaw-dropping impression on straight-arrow high school senior Matthew (Emile Hirsch) when she moves in next door and within five minutes is taking off her clothes just opposite his bedroom window.

    But when she catches him peeking, the girl knows she's got Matthew's number and decides to have a little fun. She marches over to his house, makes a nerve-wracking introduction to his parents, takes him out for a drive, convinces him that turnabout is fair play -- then leaves him naked in the middle of a suburban street.

    With the score evened, Danielle becomes the kid's first flirtatious friend -- something he's none too sure how to handle, even after she plants a astonishing first kiss on him in front of all the school-jock jerks who had been coming on to her at a party the couple crashed at her "come on, live a little!" insistence.

    Initially penned by the crass team behind "Van Wilder" and "My Baby's Mama," but given more polish and panache by screenwriter Stuart Blumberg ("Keeping the Faith"), "The Girl Next Door" does follow a fairly predictable path as Matthew loses his inhibitions and, eventually, his virginity. But like the film it's fashioned after (some character templates, elements of the score and even whole scenes are borrowed from "Risky Business"), this is a movie with higher ambitions than just being another sex-minded shock comedy.

    In its first two acts, Hirsch ("The Emperor's Club," "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys") and Cuthbert are given the time to develop a genuine tentative chemistry and humanity as Matthew comes out of his shell and Danielle tries to recover her innocence and outrun her past -- with a greasy yet charismatically cool porn producer (Timothy Olyphant) in unscrupulous pursuit. When she's found out, Danielle's surprising vulnerability, coupled with bad advice from Matthew's friends, leads to a relapse for both of them that shows the heart these actors put into giving a little something more to "The Girl Next Door."

    In the last act, director Luke Greenfield (taking a huge step up from Rob Schneider's "The Animal") loses his footing as manufactured plot devices take over the story, with Matthew trying to rescue Danielle's sense of self-worth by pitting the porn producer against a rival who becomes the kid's partner in a far-fetched plan to make millions on sex-education videos (yeah, right!). Meanwhile, our hero is also sweating a speech he has to give on "moral fiber" in order to land a scholarship. This shift of focus causes Cuthbert's character to lose her depth and become little more than the beautiful smile that keeps Hirsch's character going.

    But the impish, imaginative, ribald raillery remains non-stop, even as the picture builds to a ridiculous prom-night climax. So while "The Girl Next Door" may be one-third gimmick-driven bawdy claptrap, the first two-thirds that constitute a surprisingly astute coming-of-age sex romp still make it a memorably enjoyable movie.

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