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The Girl Next Door DVD Review

The Girl Next Door

November 23, 2004

Director: Luke Greenfield,
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano, Timothy Bottoms, Donna Bullock, Jacob Young, Brian Kolodziej, Brandon Iron, Amanda Swisten, Sung Hi Lee, Ulysses Lee, Harris Laskaway, ,

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DVD Review

When Elisha Cuthbert signed to play the role of a porn star in the latest teen comedy romp, all the ’24’ fanboys must have thought both their Christmases and Birthdays had come at once. Those who drooled at the trailer should stay where they are because The Girl Next Door is not about porn or nudity, but instead the post-teenager is invited to remember what it was like at high school and what you’d wished had happened to you.

In a refreshing change from the recent wave of crap gross out teen comedies that have riddled the rental shelves as of late, he’s one that actually takes itself seriously, and not to its disadvantage. The script is very carefully crafted so that not only are you getting a comedy full of cheap laughs, but also a real drama, with characters that you can actually identify with and in turn really care for. The two genres are blended beautifully and you’re never confused about what it is you’re watching.

At first glance Emile Hirsch somehow doesn’t seem to fit well in the film but throughout the first act, his performance grows and he convincingly shows us he is the right actor to play troubled teenager Mathew Kidman. He is a regular middle-of-the-road high schooler who edits the yearbook, runs a fund-raiser, his best mates are geeks and he gets picked on by all the other American high school stereotypes. The story revolves around ‘the dream come true’ premise, when Matt’s next-door neighbour’s niece, Danielle, comes to stay. She has the looks of a pin-up model and a fetish for living dangerously and is way out of Matt’s league. After kissing her at a party and making all his peers insanely jealous, it’s up to the comedic double act of best friends Eli and Klitz to tell Matt – she’s a porn star.

Although it sounds like your regular trash that would conjure up any excuse to show a bit of flesh on camera, The Girl Next Door handles the delicate issue of porn and nudity with maturity. There is some, and more on the DVD release than the theatrical release, but these scenes are not there primarily for titillation purposes and most, if not all scenes containing nudity are integral to the plot.

It’s the supporting cast that really sells this film. Chris Marquette, who was the comic value character Lindenberg in Freddy Vs Jason, is back and on top form as the best mate / audio-visual geek. Eli Brooks also manages to decorate the film with hilarious one-liners and brutal slapstick that would put ‘Stifler’ to shame. True love will always have an obstacle and it’s Timothy Olyphant, as Kelly, Danielle’s ex-boyfriend and manager who is more than ready to get even with Matt for giving his starring tart a very big heart. He’s the smartest character, the most ruthless and conniving and has a love for the ‘f’ word and leads Matt so far down a unmoral seedy path, that you want to ‘boo’ and ‘hiss’ him like a pantomime villain.

Although there is nothing outstanding about the direction or the camera usage, there is nothing to flaw either, which is an achievement given that director Luke Greenfield is pretty much an unknown and newcomer to the mainstream. The soundtrack is used to great emotional effect and is a collection of 80s hits from the like of ‘Queen’ and ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ to the more recent stuff such as ‘David Grey’ and ‘N.E.R.D’ giving it a The Breakfast Club meets American Pie atmosphere.

Special Features

Surprisingly the extra features do provide some gems, especially a particular feature called ‘The Eli Experience’. In which actor Chris Marquette takes his character Eli Brooks to an adult film festival and poses as a movie director and tricks guys into thinking that they will be performing with a sexy blonde before secretly substituting her with a 300 pound walking mountain of muscle named ‘Mule’. Harmless fun. There is the usual ‘A look at…’ featurette, a gag reel that plays more like a music video of actors messing about rather than messing up.

Padding this disc out is the completely uninteresting 16 deleted scenes and trailer. The director’s commentary however is wonderfully revealing, giving an interesting look at the thought process behind the decision-making whilst making the film. The scene specific commentaries from the main stars Emile and Elisha are a let down and don’t amount to anything more than ‘this scene is really cool’ and ‘I really like this scene’.

All the right ingredients are here for a really nice DVD release, nothing too flashy, simple but highly effective, just like the ‘The Girl Next Door’.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 87%

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