The Girl Next Door

This cheerfully incoherent comedy pieced together from bits and pieces of other teen movies — most notably RISKY BUSINESS (1983) — features several genuinely funny moments but never really makes good on its promising setup. Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a hardworking high-school senior with his entire future mapped out, but as graduation day approaches,...read more

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Reviewed by Ethan Alter
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This cheerfully incoherent comedy pieced together from bits and pieces of other teen movies — most notably RISKY BUSINESS (1983) — features several genuinely funny moments but never really makes good on its promising setup. Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a hardworking high-school senior with his entire future mapped out, but as graduation day approaches, he starts to dream about ditching his straight-arrow ways and having a little fun. Opportunity arrives in the form of Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert), the stunning girl who has just moved in next door. Things get off to an awkward start when she catches Matthew watching her disrobe through his bedroom window; she retaliates later that same night by asking her love-struck admirer to show her around town and then forcing him to strip naked in the middle of the street. Romance actually blossoms and Matthew is soon the envy of every guy at school, including best buds Klitz (Paul Dano) and Eli (Christopher Marquette). Just as life seems perfect, Matthew learns that before she became his neighbor, Danielle was a porn star. Worse, her former boyfriend and director, Kelly (Timothy Olyphant), has tracked her down and intends to drag her back into the business. Matthew follows the pair to a Las Vegas adult-film convention and persuades Danielle to return with him, but Kelly isn't about to let his most-popular star go without a fight. The combined efforts of director Luke Greenfield and writers David Wagner, Brent Goldberg and Stuart Blumberg never produce a convincing rationale for a sophisticated looker like Danielle to stay with a gawky teenager like Hirsch. Their characters are so under-written that Danielle is simply the sum of her looks and provocative former profession (even her age is a mystery, though she's clearly older than her barely legal lover) and Matthew is a pale copy of Joel Goodson, Tom Cruise's RISKY character. Even by the undemanding standards of male wish-fulfillment fantasies, the movie is a bit of a stretch, and feels as though it has been edited repeatedly. The plot unfolds haphazardly, with the classic-rock-heavy soundtrack used to fill in narrative gaps. But the film has a certain easygoing charm, choppiness notwithstanding, and delivers several big laughs; if leads Cuthbert and Hirsch were as charismatic as scene-stealing supporting players Olyphant and Marquette, it might have joined the ranks of memorable teen comedies. As it is, it's a pleasantly forgettable footnote to the genre.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This cheerfully incoherent comedy pieced together from bits and pieces of other teen movies — most notably RISKY BUSINESS (1983) — features several genuinely funny moments but never really makes good on its promising setup. Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is… (more)

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