A high school slacker who's rejected by every school he applies to opts to create his own institution of higher learning, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, on a rundown piece of property near his hometown.
18-year-old Matthew Kidman is a straight 'A' over-achiever who feels that he has never really lived life to the full. That is, until he meets 'the girl next door'. Danielle moves in next door, and Matthew thinks he's found the girl of his dreams. All is going well, until Matthew's sex-mad friend Eli reveals that Danielle is actually a ex-porn star. Matthew doesn't know how to take the news or how to treat Danielle, and things go from bad to worse when Danielle's former producer Kelly appears to take her back. Written by
Oh, to a neighbor like Elisha Cuthbert. Not that my neighbors are bad. Want a cup of sugar? Just knock. Want help will the ball cock in your toilet? Ring next door. All of this is incredibly beneficial, but oh, to have a neighbor like Elisha Cuthbert!
Elisha plays the 'girl' in the new teen film The Girl Next Door directed by Luke Greenfield (The Animal). Her name is Danielle and she arrives just when neighbor Mathew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is writing a speech in hopes of getting a scholarship for his portrayal of moral fiber. But one look at the stripping Danielle from his bedroom window to hers leaves every fiber pointing in a different direction.
This small act of voyeurism leads to all sorts of trouble as Danielle notices her admirers' gazing and immediately heads next door to confront young Matthew. The result of their new courtship would lead to public nudity, breaking and entering, skipping school, taking drugs and everything else that we used to brag about without merit in High School.
And just as everything seems to be going extremely well for the young Matthew, one of his geek buddies reveals her true identity, that of an up-and-coming porn star. This revelation comes shortly before the arrival of her pimp film producer Kelly (Deadwood's Timothy Olyphant) who throws a wrench into the infatuational plans of the two neighbors and leads Matthew down a path that jeopardizes his endeavor to win the scholarship. Soon, Kelly and Matthew are attending strip clubs, meeting in Vegas and eventually, the two are involved in a robbery where Matt tries to win the freedom of the young Danielle.
Much has been made of The Girl Next Door's resemblance to the 1983 Tom Cruise film Risky Business. Truly, the comparisons cannot be more obvious. Instead of hookers, we have porn stars. Instead of a house party, we have a prom, and where there is a family heirloom in play with Cruise's film, Hirsch must pull out all the stops in order to obtain a $25,000 bank account that was amassed to bring a Cambodian teenager to America.
But with all these comparisons evident, I enjoyed The Girl Next Door more. The High School situations have been updated, and I believed in how Matthew could be easily drawn into his world of love and admiration, something I didn't feel with Cruise and DeMornay.
Don't get me wrong, The Girl Next Door will not have the impact of Risky Business nor will it be the catapult for either Hirsch or Cuthbert that Business was for Cruise. But it still was a rather enjoyable film. Not filled with situations bordering on the asinine (see American Pie's 2 through 3), The Girl Next Door was a smart film that resembled a John Hughes film of the early 1980's. I enjoyed all the characters from the geeks who are trying to find their sexual niche to the awkwardness and mature awakening of Matthew through the ordeal of following his dreams. Whereas adolescent films recently have skewed into gross out comedy in such entries as The New Guy, American Pie and Van Wilder, The Girl Next Door gives us something fresh, a progressive out of character plot backed by the love of a beautiful woman.
All these funny and interesting struggles lead to the senior prom where the result might seem far fetched, but at least it seems as if the director meant it not to be taken with any notion of seriousness. We understand the good guys from the bad guys and the movie makes no attempts to throw a surprise or two our way. Maybe in its simplicity, it has found the answer to rejuvenating the youthful film movement.
So, back to my original blabbering. Oh, to have a neighbor like Elisha Cuthbert! First noticed wearing pink panties in the 2003 popular film Old School, she is something to behold. But can she fix a ball cock? Don't answer that!
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