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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.3%
Worth A Look38.64%
Average: 15.15%
Pretty Bad: 7.58%
Total Crap: 8.33%

11 reviews, 66 user ratings

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Girl Next Door, The (2004)
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by Erik Childress

"A Fantasy Come True - A Terrific Teen Flick"
4 stars

The Girl Next Door took me back a few years. Back to when I saw Risky Business for sure but also back to my own high school years. That may sound like a joke if you’re familiar with the film’s premise; one that promises another twist on the raunchy teen sex comedy. But as the film opens, a horizon of clarity beams over as the filmmakers plainly have something more appealing in mind with this story. While it doesn’t fully succeed in the end, for a while it actually flirts with the potential to be one of the great teen films since that Tom Cruise classic.

In the kind of perfect encapsulation of the high school experience I wish I would have committed to video, The Girl Next Door opens with a montage of students taking their yearbook pictures and wondering “what I’ll remember most is…” The jocks remember their status, the pretty girls reminisce on their cliques and the nerds revel in their time with math club. One student, Matthew (Emile Hirsch) has no idea what to write on his form. What is there to remember when one hasn’t really done anything?

Matthew may be selling himself short a bit. After all, he’s an “A” student on the short list for a major scholarship. His parents love him and aren’t overbearing. He’s just never been part of the crowd. The future may look bright, but life’s past ain’t much to encapsulate on paper. That’s when Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door.

Her gravity-breaking beauty is enough to catch anyone’s eye, especially when she must get undressed in front of an open window like the beginning of any young man’s fantasy. She catches him and playfully gets him out of the house to ask for reciprocal; thus beginning a sweet relationship that works because of the genuineness of its approach and the enormous appeal of the two young actors. Getting through the film’s first half-hour was one of the sweetest pleasures I’ve had in some time; to a degree for living in its moment and mainly for its promise. This perfectly textured first-act culminates in a first kiss of such faultless timing that I wasn’t sure if I should applaud or cry. Although I wanted to do both.

There is no perfection without complication though as Matthew’s horny (but all-talk) friend, Eli (Chris Marquette) comes across a discovery during his adult-film hobby. Danielle’s an “actress” or at least was until she decided to make a clean start. Now her ex-producer (and ex-lover) Kelly (Timothy Olyphant) has shown up. Matthew really wants to play the man in this relationship and tries to go toe-to-toe with this fast-talking, cocky lout who is amused by this kid and patronizes him into a faux big-brother partnership. Only they want different things and Matthew’s world is about to get very dangerous and everything he’s worked for is on the verge of collapsing.

If this all sounds like Risky Business Redux, just wait until you hear Paul Haslinger’s score which may owe a couple residuals to Tangerine Dream. Even Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” is played during the momentous trotting out of beautiful women. The parallels between the two films are too unbreakable to deny. Even the admittedly clever surprise during the film’s climax can be looked upon as updating the premise for a modern audience, (you still have to wonder when they had the time to edit the tape so damn fast.) Except Risky Business holds truer a little more each year and needs no facelift. The Girl Next Door is a damn good makeup job though.

What does set it apart, besides its fabulous set-up, are its actors. Never one to dismiss Tom Cruise but even then those characters never looked like high schoolers. Emile Hirsch does and it’s a wonderful turn from his rich bad boy in the lackluster Emperor’s Club. He never missteps, even when the script or his friends try to trip him up with bad advice or questionable turns in character. Director Luke Greenfield and screenwriters Stuart Blumberg, David Wagner and Brent Goldberg use Matthew’s “consequence imagination” almost to a frustrating degree, but isn’t that how a non-risk taker would think? I was still with him every step of the way. Take the adult film angle out of the equation and I was reminded of the high school experience lived by yours truly.

Cuthbert’s Danielle could have used a few more scenes to define her background. As written, she is the typical “girl next door” personality; pleasant, good-natured, sexy by the glance and Cuthbert plays her just right. We’re never in question of her sincerity and for that I was grateful. By the end of Risky Business, we’re still not quite sure of Rebecca DeMornay’s role in the ploy adding to the intrinsic cynicism. The Girl Next Door may hint with what characterizes “moral fiber” but really wants to focus on Matthew’s quest for happiness. Matthew is out to save her and Danielle will save him too.

Timothy Olyphant (Go, TV's fabulous Deadwood) is also terrific in another scene-stealing performance. Half Guido the Killer Pimp and half Ray Liotta from Something Wild, we know Matthew shouldn’t be trusting this guy but we’re seduced by his temperament as well, wanting to believe that he’s a friend and not a burden. Is the juice worth the squeeze? That’s Kelly’s mantra for taking chances and Matthew is about to find out.

The Girl Next Door keeps spinning our expectations in different directions which is both its greatest strength and detriment. Once the porn angle is introduced, we long for that first romantic half-hour. But this new angle shifts us in our seats more than once because we really like Matthew and we like Danielle for liking him. I’m sure some identification with my own “what I’ll remember most…” pulled me in a bit (the prom scene has some eerie shades) but by the time we’re allowed to recollect with Matthew in the end, chances are you’ll be smiling. It’s just a shame that if the filmmakers would have squeezed a little more, this could have been one of the great teen films of all time.

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originally posted: 04/09/04 14:43:15
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User Comments

1/08/16 David Hollingsworth creepily bad 2 stars
7/27/13 Joe Sucked! 2 stars
11/16/09 mr.mike I saw the TV-PG version on FX. 3 stars
6/02/08 ben dover jesus elisha cuthbert is the most fuckable chick on the planet 4 stars
6/01/08 james bollington worst film i have seen in ages. awful dialogue, 2d characters, confusing and absurd plot 1 stars
4/01/07 fools♫gold I just have to rate this to stress how ATROCIOUS it is! 1 stars
3/07/07 Frank Rountree Good movie, it really draws you into it. Great acting! 4 stars
2/22/07 Beau An excellent movie with brilliant cast, deserves a few awards i think, 'cuthbert' is amazin 5 stars
1/03/07 GasAttacK Elisha "Hotter than the Sun" Cuthbert plays a porn star turned girl next door; superb. 5 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini all the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
11/09/06 Dark Enchantress funny movie, and great boobies! 5 stars
8/05/06 nicklor24 funny and good film, check it out 5 stars
1/18/06 cody A cool teenage boy 's dream movie, with ok story ,cool songs,and what yet of a cast 4 stars
1/08/06 Zaw Damn, I can't believe I waited this long to see this flick!!!!! 5 stars
1/03/06 Wiseman I want a girl friend like her :+( 5 stars
12/15/05 Olan Munji entertaining enough 3 stars
11/24/05 cr a fun movie,ever young man dream , yet i felt a little cheated 3 stars
11/23/05 Sully Risky Business for the 2000's...Cuthbert had me hard all night long..... 4 stars
11/21/05 JN Excellent! This movie was great entertainment 5 stars
11/08/05 sudip bhowmik its a excellent film 5 stars
9/11/05 Nicholas Sheldon Underrated. The writing is top notch and Greenfield gives the film true depth. 5 stars
9/09/05 Ric Funny, smart, sweet, and sexy, it's the perfect teen comedy. 5 stars
6/13/05 Josh Camp Good movie.. I enjoyed it 5 stars
6/03/05 Kaitlyn Pierce sexy 5 stars
4/11/05 tristan Great cast, cool story, inpirational for geeks. 5 stars
3/31/05 christian its hot 5 stars
3/17/05 Naughty Devil Man If Elisha Cuthbert ever asked me to fuck her, I'd die of a coronary. 5 stars
2/21/05 xxplosive This is a very funny movie. 4 stars
2/14/05 WatsUp Good plot but a bit heavy for school kids. 3 stars
1/04/05 posse fuck those who doesn't enjoy this movie, chicks in here are totally awesome, esp. elisha 5 stars
11/21/04 Charlene Javier I'm not a horny teenage boy so I didn't enjoy this. 2 stars
11/05/04 creview Insightful, sharp, and stunningly well told. Far beyond the limits of the genre. 5 stars
11/01/04 Scenic1988 Elisha Cuthbert is the beatiful girl i've ever seen 5 stars
10/28/04 fordefisher Excellent movie with some very touching moments 5 stars
10/14/04 Justin Overall a great movie! Very truthfull 5 stars
9/17/04 y2mckay Well-written teen comedy with a likable cast - and of course Elisha, hotter than the sun. 4 stars
9/12/04 alfred zhou it is a exciting film,i am falled with the story,and saw two times in 24 huors 4 stars
9/06/04 Samuel one of the best comedies i've seen in quite some time... 5 stars
9/05/04 Titus For a teen flick, could be a lot worse. 4 stars
9/04/04 jeff ever wateched popular mecnics for kids?? knew she would be a hottie one grown up. 4 stars
9/04/04 paul hines one of the best films ive seen in a long while the story is so good great film 5 stars
8/27/04 Mike Stanbridge The concept and Cuthbert make this worth the money 4 stars
8/26/04 tatum Not bad, better than "Risky Business" 4 stars
8/26/04 David Frommer EricDSnider proves wiser than Roger Ebert, A.O. Scott with this excellent review. 5 stars
8/14/04 fyrebat this movie was hilarious 5 stars
7/17/04 legend Okay, I was sucked in by the trailers but it wasn't that bad. Funny film. 4 stars
6/30/04 Vinny Spinz THIS MOVIE ROCKED! Plus Elisha Cuthbert is SOOO Sexy, WORD 5 stars
5/28/04 Millie Maelstrom Great moral: A guy's a "faggott" unless he jumps at chance to fuck likely venerial cesspool 1 stars
5/21/04 Mermaid's Pedicurist Again, fartophobic EricDSnider likes many things mightily more obnoxious than farts. 3 stars
5/19/04 Priscilla Postlethwaite What smart guy would fall for girl who forced him to run down street naked? Dumb "comedy". 3 stars
5/03/04 Al Really Funny 5 stars
4/28/04 SIr Spam-a-lot Better thatn I expected 4 stars
4/28/04 Drew Immediately became one of my all time favorites!!! 5 stars
4/23/04 john wallace good comic relief...the shots of cuthbert are awesome....she is beautiful. 3 stars
4/19/04 maumau Emile Hirsche is so hot!! great step from the emperors club 5 stars
4/12/04 eyamxi very nice, loved the ending 5 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 Im not big on comedies but i did have fun 4 stars
4/11/04 K As bad as Cabin Fever 1 stars
4/11/04 Ripoff Didn't I see this same movie when it was called "Risky Business"? Crap... 1 stars
4/11/04 ajay only saw it cause of the bitchslap review, and it was good. soundtrack's amazing. 4 stars
4/11/04 Michael Delightful, intelligent, sweet, and Timothy Olyphant scores another scene-stealing triumph 5 stars
4/07/04 Desperado great movie, funny as hell, and elisha cuthbert is the hottest thing on the planet 5 stars
4/05/04 lucas pornstars 5 stars
4/05/04 Ray Big deal 2 stars
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  09-Apr-2004 (R)
  DVD: 24-Aug-2004



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