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Here we have a great example of how decent writers, armed with creative
juice to spare, can take a well-worn plot and rework it to make it seem
fresh. Just when you think you've got the next twist figured out, you're
surprised. This happens throughout the movie, making
The Girl Next Door one of the most charming, smart and subversive teen
comedies I've seen in a long time - beautifully written, perfectly cast, a
real pleasure from start to finish.
Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert and Timothy Olyphant shine in their respective roles as the young man at a crossroads in his life, the girl next door of the title, equally confused, and the scuzball with a heart who knows he has to do the right thing even if it goes against his 'business instincts.' These characters are not one-dimensional, thanks to the superb writing, nor are they caricatures; they come across as genuine individuals, and the comedy in the film comes not at their expense but rather organically, as part of their journey. As Olyphant's character asks Hirsch at one point: "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" In this case, it most definitely is.
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 (in interviews she
revealed that it is indeed her there... if not elsewhere in the
The debt this movie owes to "Risky Business" - starting with the score by ex-Tangerine Dream member Paul Haslinger (Tangerine Dream scored "Risky Business") - 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 (step forward Emile Hirsch as the sympathetic hero), 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 (Timothy Olyphant plays the Guido equivalent). 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" (good though that movie is, charm is not its strong point), 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 (and if you go to see this because of Elisha's "one for the men" status, I must warn you that she spends alarming amounts of time off-screen); 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 (with more echoes of "Risky Business" en route, for sure).
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. Which is their loss.
"The juice was worth the squeeze."
In a world wrought with unoriginal and humor-lacking teen movies, The
Girl Next Door provides a beacon of light. The director's hardest
battle was to insure that although 90% of the cast are teenagers, that
this movie should not be labeled as a teen comedy.
The first comparison that should be made between your average Hollywood teen offering and this movie is the humor. Some movies (American Pie 1, Road Trip) are genuinely funny , but in a slapstick way. The Girl Next Door provides more intelligent jokes (Eli saying that Matthews's motel advances towards Danielle was a little forthcoming, for instance).
Even after this fact is acknowledged, it is still tempting to accuse The Girl Next Door of being a teen movie, but suddenly the thought springs to mind . "Hang on ; did that movie have a story line?" And the answer is of course "too right it did". The story line revolves around a life changing loss of innocence for: primarily, Matthew and Danielle, and secondarily: Eli and Klits.
Matthew starts the movie in a tether of his scholarship acquirement's, he spends hours studying and speech revising . enter Danielle, in the space of 2 weeks she turns Matthew from a text book geek, into the king of the school (I refer of course to his control over the jocks on prom night.). Danielle, for all her real world experience, is an emotional black hole. Matthew, in the movie breaks threw this, and Danielle "makes love" for the first time.
Eli, the local porn king, thinks he (sexually) knows it all, however, even the slightest sexual conduct, and he turns and runs (i.e. the porn star asking Eli/Klitz to feel his girlfriends breasts). Klitz, like Matthew, is a text book nerd and lacks any confidence in his appearance, what so ever. With the help of April, he breaks through this, gaining a silent reputation for the prominence of his manhood.
So let's compare these major story lines to some admitted teen movies. American Pie 2: The story line (singular) in this story is to go on vacation and get laid. WOW. Not exactly a feast for the thought. Road Trip: This time round the storyline (singular) is that a guy suddenly realizes that his pen pal is a girl and sets of on a several thousand mile trip to profess his undying love .. Rubbish.
One similarity I am happy to point out between this work and the self-proclaimed teen movies, is that it has an excellent sound track. A few examples of the excellent choices in music would be David Gray's This Years Loving. This song perfectly matched the budding affections of Danielle and Matthew, both while they share their first kiss, and when there have sex for the first time. On a smaller scale Lapdance by NERD, perfectly captures the moment when the new and improved Matthew, strolls into the Prom and officially becomes the Godfather of the school. On the topic of the sound track, I could go on for pages, so ill just stop that now.
The best movie to compare this piece to is Risky Business. You've all seen it I'm sure. The academically perfect Tom Cruise's parents do away for the weekend . And Cruise erupts. Going wild for the weekend, he dance around the house, pants-less (easily one of the most famous scenes in movie history) and more importantly (from a story line point of view), meets and falls in love with hooker Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). On comparison I preferred The Girl Next Door. The relationship between Hirsh/Cuthbert is far more convincing then that of Cruise/De Mornay, and more importantly, there was no real foundation for the change in Cruises character, whereas Matthew is forced out of his shell by the life-of-fun character of Danielle.
Unfortunately, Risky Business is unshakable from it pillar as one of the best movies ever. But the Girl Next Door deserves to stand right up there beside is it.
If you haven't seen this movie but have read this . sorry ., but go get the movie anyway, trust me, i didn't talk about, about 90% of the content of this masterpiece. If you have seen it, then I hope you agree with my synopsis.
This movie is worthy of much more recognition then it is currently receiving. And ill bet that the reason is in the first eleven words of this review.
The Girl Next Door is just simply an entertaining movie. It's got plenty of flaws - almost every single scene of the second half of the film seems to act as the climax, and then the movie keeps going - but it's also got one of the most appealing casts I've seen in a while. Emile Hirsh (Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Emperor's Club) is the central character Matthew, about to graduate from high school. He's just plain likable. The drop-dead gorgeous Elisha Cuthbert (Kim Bauer on 24, in a very different type of role here) is the title character, Danielle. Matthew's two friends and one of Danielle's associates played by Tim Olyphant are particular standouts in terms of comic relief; the movie is genuinely funny. Funny, a bit silly, and at times honestly sweet, it's an entertaining movie that's harmless and worth seeing.
The Girl Next Door's tagline "Matt didn't see her coming...but all his
friends have!" is very deceiving, because the movie is not like that at
all. When you see this, you'll expect a raunchy, borderline porn movie,
but what you get is a refreshing, adorable, and sweet love story with
great performances from Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert.
Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch, The Emperor's Club, Lords of Dogtown) is not a geek by any means. He's your everyday nice guy who's never really 'lived'. He is the top student, the class president, and he's in charge of bringing a teenage super genius to the U.S.A. Everything is going fantastic, because he even gets accepted to Georgetown. Only problem is, he needs the money to get to the school, and this can only be paid by winning a scholarship. A few days before his speech on why he deserves the scholarship, Matt meets Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert, '24', Weezer's 'Perfect Situation video), a breathtakingly beautiful girl who (after a hilarious few scenes where they meet) he instantly falls for, and she falls for him.
For the first part of the movie, you see Danielle, the near unfairly sexy girl, push Matt to limits he hasn't gone to, such as running in the street naked, swimming in a stranger's pool, and skipping school. They're falling in love, and it's easy to see on screen, and it's adorable.
Just when it can't get any better for Matt, things take a turn for the worse. One of his best friends, Eli (the hilarious Chris Marquette), who is a massive porn addict, goes through his collection, and finds a tape...and who is the star? Danielle. Turns out, Danielle had just quit her job as a porn star and decided to turn over a new leaf. After a near tear-jerking scene, Danielle returns to her old career by contacting her old boss, a gritty and suave porn producer named Kelly (Tim Olyphant). It's at this point that Matt decides that he doesn't care about Danielle's past, and he's in love with her. He decides that he'll do anything to get her back, including taking on Kelly, the porn industry, and some very weird people.
After some events, the plot strays away from just Matt and Danielle, and thickens to become a real movie, not just a teen movie. The movie does an excellent job of keeping us interested, because just as the plot becomes serious, Eli and Matt's other friend, Klitz, add some very funny moments and ideas. Yes, the movie does sound like the classic Risky Business, but it does things that separate itself from that movie. The chemistry between Hirsch and Cuthbert is magical, and despite her gigantic sex appeal, the character of Danielle is so lovable for how sweet and caring she is to Matt. There are some great plot twists that keep you interested, not to mention hilarious in jokes and one liners, and not to mention a classic quote: "The juice was worth the squeeze". You'll understand. Tim Olyphant is great in a somewhat opposing role, and veteran actor James Remar makes a few appearances as a porn producing giant. The movie's ending is so great and funny that you can't help but enjoy, not to mention mysterious, keeping you hanging by a thread the whole way through.
Luke Greenfield has directed a movie that is so well liked and cherished, that I have never heard a bad thing against this film (I'm 17, and all my friends, guys and girls, loved it). I own it on DVD, and have watched it at least 10 times. I've finally gotten around to writing a review, because writing this has reminded me of how great this movie is. In a few one word sentences, The Girl Next Door is...fun. hilarious. sweet. lovable. classic. I recommend this movie to anyone from the ages of 13 to 30, because this is the age group it is intended for.
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!
I did not see this movie in theaters. I usually wait for teen films to
come out on video before viewing them. I must say, the way this movie
was marketed, one would figure that this flick is along the lines of
such classics as Bring It On and Can't Hardly Wait. Though this movie
definitely is now part of the illustrious teen film library, it runs a
little bit deeper than the average adolescent flick.
As the title suggest, this movie does have Risky Business written all over it. The characters (the pimp vs the adult film director) the props (glass egg vs the golden "trophy") as well as the music and language definitely give this film an updated twist on RB. However, it would be erroneous to write this film off as a rip-off, it just isn't afraid to show it's influence.
Emile Hirsch is great as Matthew Kidman, the ambitious high school senior (who actually looks like he's in high school) with an Ivy League future. Straight and narrow, his life is spun on it's head once Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) enters the picture. Cuthbert, playing a free-spirited porn star, actually gives a rather understated performance that is sincere and sweet. Matthew's once planned out life is now lived more on the edge, and with that, he encounters some interesting characters, such as Kelly, the shady porn director, played flawlessly by Timothy Olyphant.
However, as the film progresses, the movie didn't delve as deeply into Cuthbert's character as it should have. No insight into her background, how did she get to where she is right now, etc. She also takes a back seat to the growing tension between the Matthew and the sleazebag Kelly. I must say, Olyphant is great in this film. He goes from being hilarious to charming to scary in the span of about five minutes and steals almost every scene he's in. The other supporting characters are great. Chris Marquette (Eli) and Paul Dano (Klitz) are funny as Hirsch's dorky friends, and hopefully Marquette will land more roles like this. They too seem to become more adventurous once Danielle enters the picture, what an influence one person can have.
So in the end, this does have a lot of the typical teen flick campiness. There are jocks, hot chicks on campus, geeks, and the movie itself has plenty of swearing, bathroom humor, slapstick, you name it. There is a sweetness to the movie, as it's amazing what a person will do when they fall in love. This movie has plenty of twists and turns, so come along for the ride and have some fun.
The Girl Next Door isn't a riotous, laugh-out-loud comedy, à la
American Pie or Road Trip (don't get me wrong, I think they are fine
movies of a different genre), nor should it be treated as such when
being reviewed. It's much more mature, a sweet delight of a story that
has you chuckling in amusement rather than rolling on the floor
guffawing. For that, I would hardly even classify it in the generic
'comedy' genre. I must admit, I did go in thinking that I'd spend two
hours of my life enjoying yet another teen comedy, with an overdone
plot, jokes bordering on distasteful, and up to the brim with
gratuitous nudity. However, I came out with so much more.
It's a classic tale of boy-meets-girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy lives happily ever after with girl. But what makes The Girl Next Door stand out from the rest is the superb cast. The casting director did a great job, placing Emile Hirsch opposite Elisha Cuthbert (both very talented young up-and-coming actors, I wish them well in luck, love and life). The pair's on-screen chemistry is undeniably electric. They portrayed Matthew and Danielle's relationship perfectly loving and tender, yet fragile. This boy has fallen hopelessly in love for the first time, with the girl of his dreams. He has no past experience to draw on, he's terrified and confused, and he doesn't know what to do! As director Luke Greenfield pointed out in his commentary (Unrated DVD is a must-have for the hardcore fans), Emile and Elisha were chosen for their ability to act without dialogue, simply with their eyes. The subtleties in each expression brings so much more to the characters when watched closely in detail every nervous bite of the lip, every slight mischievous arch in the eyebrow you can tell exactly what they're thinking. Now, I've seen my fair share of movies/TV shows, and I'd be confident in saying that I have not yet seen another actor/actress able to fill those roles as perfectly and effortlessly as Emile and Elisha did. They must've poured their hearts out into these characters, bringing them to life, their romance blossoming on-screen.
And how can we ignore the superb supporting cast? Timothy Olyphant and Chris Marquette's work on this movie was simply priceless. They provided the comedy and laughs, and it would be impossible to list all of their hilarious one-liners here. A lot of people claim that they made the movie, and though I disagree, I can sure see where they're coming from.
And the music, oh, the music. I came of no great surprise to me to learn that Luke Greenfield writes all his projects to music. It is this unique trait that embellishes the movie with such a vivid background. From Bowie & Queen's "Under Pressure" opening montage to The Who's "Baba O'Riley" closing credits, every single song is perfect for its scene, particularly David Gray's "This Year's Love", mine and many other's favourite song in the soundtrack. It kicks in at the exact right moment and manages to capture everything about this innocent, pure, high school romance. Also, Paul Haslinger (second to none at composing scores) wrote some of his best work for The Girl Next Door. Simply put (again, stealing lines from the director) Haslinger is deadly with a piano. Each score enhances and fills the moment with such tension and suspense, most notably "Peeping Matt", when Matthew watches this gorgeous creature undressing through his window for the first time. There is an element of voyeurism and the excitement of the danger of being caught, as he watches the female movement and form unravelling with fascination and awe. He simply can't keep his eyes off her. It's a scene that many of us can connect with.
This is indeed one of those movies that ought to be watched on a DVD, at night, alone, rather than on a huge screen in the cinema with others. You'll find yourself leaving the end with a bittersweet aftertaste will I find that special someone like Danielle? Do I need to be broken out of my shell? Is the juice worth the squeeze? Sure, it is an idealist fantasy, but it's also sweet, endearing and full of heart. It's how an old-school love story ought be done. Just suspend your belief for two hours, and watch the magic happen. Hell, just go with it.
So yes most guys are going to see the movie because of the achingly beautiful and hot Elisha Cuthbert. And she only disappoints a little. Otherwise this is the perfect vehicle for her playing a porn star who is trying to change her ways and live more of a normal teen-age girl's life. As she stays at her aunt's house, she meets her next door neighbor after he spies on her undressing. I think a lot of guys will be able to relate to Emile Hirsch's character--a young guy who is trying so hard to break out of his shell. Along comes Elisha who is more worldly and adventurous and who actually likes him. He'd follow this girl anywhere and not one of us could blame him for girls like this rarely come along in life.The plot is somewhat predictable but the movie has enough funny, quirky and memorable characters that you will enjoy it anyway. There is one very memorable kiss which takes place at a party, while David Gray's "This Years Love" plays in the background. This same song plays again at the end when they are in the limo, but interestingly enough the song is not included on the movie soundtrack CD??? For guys like myself who are a little older, the movie represents a time in life when anything is possible and within reach if you just have that unreachable,beautiful woman by your side. Thing is, most young guys never believe they could get a girl like Elisha. So the movie is about much more than a porno star moving next door. Its about taking risks, putting your heart out there, reaching for what you want even though it appears unreachable. And finally, God, is Elisha Cuthbert just unreal!!!
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, Luke Greenfield's sexy yet sweet teen angst flick,
owes a lot to both the RISKY BUSINESS premise (HS Senior, his goal a
prestigious college, has his life turned 'upside-down' by world-wise
'Pro'), and the internal structure of John Hughes' 80's teen 'classics'
(geeky hero, and his two geekier friends, gain acceptance and prestige
through his relationship with a 'dream girl').
Close your eyes, and you could easily picture the young Anthony Michael Hall or John Cusack filling Emile Hirsch's role, with Rebecca De Mornay or Kelly Preston replacing Elisha Cuthbert as his ex-porn star girlfriend. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, however, actually works quite well, thanks to Greenfield's 'tongue-in-cheek' approach to the naughtiness, and a flawless supporting cast, particularly Timothy Olyphant as a likable but ultimately ruthless porn producer, and Timothy Bottoms and Donna Bullock, as Hirsch's clueless but blindly supportive parents.
Emile Hirsch shows a propensity towards 'soulfully earnest' expressions, but does provide one of the film's funniest scenes, as, while high on Ecstasy, he attempts to navigate through a crowd awaiting his speech on 'high moral fiber'. While some critics tended to brush off Elisha Cuthbert's performance as just another skin-baring 'boy toy' variation, she actually conveys the vulnerability and pain of her character's past quite effectively, balancing it with sly humor and a LOT of 'sex appeal', done within the restraints of her "No Nudity" contract clause...Sorry, guys, while you'll see a LOT of her skin, you AREN'T going to see Elisha 'bare all'...
The film is a very funny, breezy lark, and while it never achieves the heights of insanity of RISKY BUSINESS, it certainly stands as one of the better 'teen' comedies of the past few years!
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