108 Min | Comedy – Drama – Romance | April 2004
IMDB Rating: 6.8
Director: Luke Greenfield
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Nicholas Downs, Elisha Cuthbert
The Girl Next Door Review: Responsibility for “The Girl Next Door”‘s poor performance at the US box office – as well as over here – can be laid firmly at the feet of Twentieth Century Fox’s marketing people, the tagline “Matt never saw her coming – but all his friends had!” made it seem like a full-on sex comedy, when it’s actually a lot more than that; director Luke Greenfield and writers Stuart Blumberg, David T. Wagner and Brent Goldberg put more emphasis on the characters than the raunch, which makes all the difference. There’s more to the movie than the sight of Elisha Cuthbert in a thong. The debt The Girl Next Door owes to “Risky Business” – starting with the score by ex-Tangerine Dream member Paul Haslinger – is pretty clear, both movies have bright but slightly life-challenged graduate students given to fantasising about things that go wrong as their main characters, both have sex-obsessed best friends, both have women in the sex business as the main female characters who come into the hero’s uptight life and help to liberate him, and both have sleazy male bosses.
The movie also has the same mostly restrained view of its story where other movies would have played up the farce aspects – the only real hi-jinks come when the movie’s plot takes in the Adult Film Convention in Las Vegas – but “The Girl Next Door” is a lot more engaging and has a lot more heart than “Risky Business”, with the title character seen as more of a person than a masturbatory object both by our hero and by the movie. When she goes with a motel with him and starts to play up The Porn Star, you really hope they don’t go through with it. The mood set up in the early stages is so convincing that when Olyphant’s porn producer character turns up the movie seems to turn into another one entirely it’s still a good one, but it damages the overall movie’s tone, and for most of the rest of the movie it veers back and forth between sweet and sleazy, but the amazing thing is that “The Girl Next Door” actually manages to find a happy balance of the two by the time the prom climax arrives.
True, there’s no actual sex seen and little nudity, but the cast works so well and the movie’s so sincere that by the end it doesn’t seem like a ripoff. With good use of songs blending with the score, well-done fantasy sequences, and a welcome dose of intelligence in its writing, “The Girl Next Door” is probably the most adorable movie to get an R rating since “Pretty Woman,” and well worth seeing even if you don’t have a thing for Kim off “24.” But this isn’t for the “Daily Sport” crowd.