Girl Next Door, simply put, is an amazing film, one that preaches with
joy and wonder, as great fiction should. It exhibits an imaginative
situation with daring realism in its content. Ferociously directed by Luke
Greenfield; shockingly written by Stuart Blumberg, David Wagner, and Brent
Goldberg; and amazingly performed by leads Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbet,
this is a movie to cherish and remember. Itís a good, old throwback to the
days of Risky Business and Fast Times at Ridgemont High,
completely not reliant upon the potty humor which practically destroys
new-age teen-comedies like American Pie. When watching The Girl
Next Door, I was enchanted, mesmerized by the mastery I was witnessing.
It is one of the few movies that I can truthfully claim I never wanted to
getting ahead of myself. Most of you reading this havenít seen the movie
yet. For all you know, the flickís promotional material exhibits a clear
example of what the movie supposedly depicts. The truth is, the ads couldnít
be more wrong than they are. The Girl Next Door is not a crude, vile
creation, composed only of disgusting, gross-out gags, concerning every
function of the body. Itís actually a sweet, crowd-pleasing combination of
wit and verism, one of the best movies of the year.
is about a geeky high school senior named Matthew (Hirsch), whose
new next door neighbor, Danielle (Cuthbert), is a porn star. She does
take him on wild adventures, romancing him, leading to a downward spiral of
events between him and her adult-video-obsessed, vicious boss. But, there
arenít any extremely graphic sex scenes. And no, Elisha Cuthbert does
not have a single scene involving full-frontal nudity. The Girl Next Door
has the required amount of eroticism to get its point across and move the
story along, but from a moralistic standpoint, its parts are nowhere near as
explicit as, say, Pulp Fiction. It may seem like a pretty gutsy
comparison, but The Girl Next Door is in the same league as
relationship between Danielle and Matthew actually feels real, surprisingly,
even though their time together accounts for the majority of the laughs in
the film. Emile Hirsch, who gave a genre-defying performance in The
Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, delivers more brilliance here. Matthew is
a character who has never been in a relationship and, at first, goes to
extremes for Danielle because she is willing to acknowledge him as a
boyfriend. But, in the midst of this, and all the craziness he puts himself
through for her, he realizes how much he does care for her. Sure, there is a
profound contrivance in this movie, but itís a rewarding one. The storyline
may lack credibility, but in the process, the characters confront real
emotions with real consequences. Conventions, predictability, and marketing
campaigns aside, there is an abundance of feeling in The Girl Next Door.
Audiences will certainly take this for granted, dismissing the movie as an
ordinary one, but if they were only to look between the film-reels, they
would discover a beautiful truth. Seeing that on The Girl Next Doorís
opening day (yesterday), it only grossed two-and-a-half million dollars, its
distributor, Fox, couldíve advertised it for what it really was, and made an
equal amount of money, if not more.
one thing I cannot deny about what Fox has claimed The Girl Next Door
to be, and that is that it is often sexy. Elisha Cuthbert fuels the picture
with a gorgeously beautiful presence, which is, in itself, a site to behold.
We develop a pure attachment to her character as she romances Matthew, and
when we see her become squeezed into her bossís grasp, modeling live to
promote her pornography, it hurts. When this happens, we are not only
sympathetic for Matthew, but her, as well. She is, in essence, throwing her
body away for something so superficial, when she has the ability to
experience something as exhilarating as her love of Matthew instead.
However, he cares about her enough to strengthen her vulnerabilities and
help her in getting out of a business she is desperate to never see again,
throughout the film. There have been accusations made by critics that The
Girl Next Door glamorizes pornography, but these are completely false.
It is definitely the intent of director Luke Greenfield to denote such
material, albeit only completely defined by the end of the picture.
has a style that honors the predecessors which noticeably inspired The
Girl Next Door, creating an extremely welcome 1980ís mood and feel.
Behind the camera, he allows the picture to feel as breezy and watchable as
it is, letting development to be construed, but still crafting it with the
light-heartedness it needs to be successful. Much of the reason why I never
felt empty when viewing it was because of the brisk pacing and melodic tones
Greenfield institutes in his style. No matter how great the script of any
movie is, the movement of a story is crucial. Thankfully, The Girl Next
Door does not suffer any losses as a result of lack of attention to
reason as to why Greenfieldís work is so inspired is because he has been
blessed with a range of material, to fill every possible gap in the flick.
His utilization of Matthewís friends Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul
Dano) is key. The two offer tremendous support for the general scheme of
The Girl Next Door exactly how supporting characters should. They add
small, but memorable touches to the picture, never overstaying their welcome
onscreen. Sweet, innocent laughs come from Eliís obsession with pornography
and Klitzís overall dorkiness, especially during the finale, in which he is
complemented by one of Danielleís fellow adult-film stars.
As I left
The Girl Next Door, the last few credits were rolling and the title
song of ďBaba O'Riley (Teenage Wasteland)Ē by The Who had finished playing, softly,
highlighting the end of the charactersí enormous journeys through the rather
short period of time the film covers. I greeted the theatre manager, who
standing at the exit door. He handed me a coupon for a free ticket for a
movie of my choice, because they had begun the screening I had attended
twenty minutes later than they were supposed to. This almost felt entirely
unnecessary, considering the wonderful experience they had just presented me
with. I would pay fifty dollars to see The Girl Next Door a second
time, let alone zero. If I choose to use the pass for a repeat viewing of
it, Iíll be more than elated. Itís only early-April and Iíve seen three
great films this year, so far. And even with the tremendous-looking, grand
lineup of films ahead, I doubt that any will be able to strike as great a
chord with me as this one has.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews (4.10.2004)
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