The Girl Next Door Movie Review
Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert star as an unlikely teenage couple in The Girl Next Door. After all, he plays an intelligent and well-rounded student headed for Georgetown, and she is a porn star. God, isn't America great?
Do not be fooled by the plot, where a kid named Matthew (Hirsch) falls for his new neighbor who turns out to have a past in pornography and whose current producer will stop at nothing to keep her on his payroll, however. While The Girl Next Door will not appeal to people that like normal romantic comedies, the movie is not made entirely for men (though there was not a single woman in the audience). In fact, the amount of nudity and sex is rather limited (disappointingly so) and the seriousness factor is a little higher than expected. Compared to Eurotrip, which is the other movie that I saw today, The Girl Next Door takes itself much more seriously, and is actually very effective in creating a believable and sturdy story. That being said, the movie never tries to be dramatic (aside from the typical romantic comedy jargon that goes on in all of these movies) and is generally very entertaining, though not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny.
The Girl Next Door has some good jokes and running storylines, but those looking for a sex romp comedy could be disappointed. There is very little gross-out humor, and the slapstick factor is almost zero. There are a few funny dream sequences (where Hirsch's character considers what might happen if he makes a certain decision), but other than that the movie is fairly straight-laced. Of course, the story is still about a porn star, so it isn't exactly a family movie, either.
All of the main characters do a good and believable job. Hirsch, whose biggest role thus far has been in The Emperor's Club, makes for a good lead, a handsome guy who pulls off his cautionary side very well. Cuthbert, who has survived many kidnappings and even a cougar on Fox's "24" (one of my favorite shows), is incredibly fun to watch here, as she gets to try on a variety of outfits that all provide a good look at the curves of her body. Her acting is good, too, though her character isn't quite as big as expected. The best friends of Hirsch's character, played by Chris Marquette and Paul Dano, are entertaining, and Timothy Olyphant is especially good as the dangerous producer.
The Girl Next Door has a good plot and good characters, but it does begin to feel a bit drawn out near the end. The last twenty minutes seem to go on forever, and while never boring seem a bit over-extended. A lot goes on once prom begins, and some of these developments could have been removed, rehashed or completely retooled. For instance, it would have been nice to see better payback inflicted on Olyphant's sleazy character.
The Girl Next Door is a surprisingly well-done movie that does not sink nearly as low as its plot suggests. It handles the material confidently and in professionally, and the result is a pleasing and entertaining movie with some good laughs and beautiful women.
As for the DVD, don't be fooled by its "Unrated Version," which the studio claims is "what they couldn't show in theaters" and contains "more skin... more sex... and more laughs." The 16 deleted or extended scenes are short little elements cut out for time and nothing more; very few of them are really worth watching. The original ending that is included on this disc is also nothing more than a few second clip that changes little about the film. On the other hand, the gag reel is a bit more entertaining.
The DVD, which is double-sided, also includes the trailer, a stills gallery, the trailer and a full-length commentary by the director, though those looking for more rewarding features may find them in a featurette called "The Eli XXXperience" and scene-specific commentaries by the two lead actors. I am not one who likes to sit through a whole movie listening to the director talk, but the scene-specific commentaries allow for shorter insights into, well, specific scenes. Emile Hirsch isn't exactly the best at commenting on his scenes, but Elisha Cuthbert is a little more entertaining. The best feature by far, however, is "The Eli XXperience," which is basically a mini-documentary that follows the actor who plays Eli in the movie to a real porn convention where he basically plays "Candid Camera" on unsuspecting men. The short featurette revolves around two funny segments, one where Eli tricks some guys into thinking they are going to be in a porn with a beautiful woman only to have a massively large man show up instead, the other where the massively large man tries to hit on guys just walking around. It's funny stuff.
The "Look Next Door" featurette is a relatively dull marketing device for the movie, but the DVD does have a few features worth watching. The Unrated DVD really adds nothing to the sexiness of the film, but may be all worth it for "The Eli XXXperience."
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.