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Danielle's bedroom window

Matthew and Danielle on Prom Night
September 2004 SITE MAP   SEARCH

The Girl Next Door

cast: Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, Chris Marquette, and James Remar

director: Luke Greenfield

105 minutes (15) 2004 widescreen ratio 2.35:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by John Percival
Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a nerdy but ambitious high school senior on the verge of his graduation. He has his sights set on a sought after scholarship at Georgetown University and is working hard to make this a reality. Then Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next-door seeking a break from her former life. Things look good for mischief-maker Danielle and straight-laced Matthew as they start to spend a lot of time together, then he discovers she used to be a porn star and soon the porn business starts knocking at the door.

Bearing the mind that the subject is a schoolboy fantasy, director Luke Greenfield has pulled it from the gutter and used some great casting to turn a snigger-fest into great comedy movie. Obviously one of the biggest selling points is 24's Elisha Cuthbert in the porn star role but it does not rely solely on that and she proves she can act sensitive, vulnerable but strong beyond the stereotyped image. She is fun loving, naughty but also a little damaged from her work. Emile Hirsch is equally as well cast. He looks like a cross between Ashton Kutcher and Joaquin Phoenix and easily manages to carry the comedy of the first and the intensity of the last. As Matthew he starts as an awkward boy with nerdy dreams and then grows in confidence through the film as he finds his world turned upside down and in some very unfamiliar and dangerous situations. Timothy Olyphant delivers another brilliant performance as Danielle's porn producer Kelly. He steals nearly every scene he is in, with a broad trusting smile and a very deep dark side.

The plot is incredible, implausible and twists and turns as much as the raging hormones in this fantasy, but the result will have you laughing out loud. It does touch on the awkwardness of youth and problems of teenage boys interacting with the opposite sex. This is brilliantly displayed by Matthew's two best friends, Klitz who is impossibly shy and Eli the porn addict and budding filmmaker. Drug taking is tackled without trivialising or preaching. There is lap dancing, porn stars and porn conventions but the story always remains the focus and is completely absorbing. The Girl Next Door easily leaves behind such teen comedies as Road Trip or American Pie by using the smut instead being led by it. This further allows for the romantic side of the comedy to be played out fully, making the film to be more accessible to others. Plus the twist of how the hero gets out of his inevitable predicament is very pleasantly surprising and just as hilarious.

The Girl Next Door is a superb teen comedy that will not disappoint the huge audience it is aimed at. A great sensitive story backed up by great acting and some excellently placed jokes it more than recommended.

It that was not enough then the DVD is rammed full of extras and each one is worth a look. There are director, cast and text commentaries. Featurettes showing The Making Of... and The Eli Experience. A gag reel, deleted scenes, sex education(!) and some trailers.

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