out of Five
Running time: 115
The Girl Next Door features an attractive, likeable cast, a decent script and some very funny gags – if you’re fifteen years old and male, there’s every chance that you might think this is The Greatest Movie Ever Made.
It’s entirely possible that there’s a picture of Elisha Cuthbert in the
dictionary under the word “starlet”. Thanks to her role as Kim (Kimmeh!) in TV’s 24, as well as a series of scantily-clad appearances in men’s magazines, she is very much the pin-up du jour.
Script And Performances Way Above Average
At first sight, then, and especially judging by the poster, The Girl Next Door appears to be little more than a vehicle for her (ahem) talents (“It’s Kimmeh! As a porn star!”). Happily, however, the script and the performances are way above average and this is an enjoyable teen sex comedy with a subtle 1980s vibe about it. In a good way.
Relative newcomer Emile Hirsch plays Matthew Kidman. As a young man with big scholastic goals, he’s also something of a Goody Two-Shoes. However, when he falls in love with Danielle, the proverbial Girl Next Door (Elisha Cuthbert), his priorities head towards the window almost as fast as he does when he spies her undressing of an evening. And then – whoops! - he discovers she’s a porn star…
If The Girl Next Door sounds a little familiar, that’s because it’s essentially a re-working of Risky Business with the words “porn star” replacing the word “prostitute”. It has also been filtered through several John Hughes teen movies and has picked up an endearing 1980s throwback vibe in the process.
Hirsch is extremely likeable in the lead role and proves himself more than capable of carrying the film. Cuthbert is surprisingly good, too – aside from being Drop Dead Gorgeous, she also proves herself a capable comic actress in the Cameron Diaz mould. (Though, sadly, for those of you who like to know these things, her kit remains resolutely on throughout).
There’s also great support from John Cusack-alike Chris Marquette (who is so full of manic energy that he seems to be channelling Cusack circa Sixteen Candles) and Paul Dano as Matthew’s geeky best friends, as well as Timothy Olyphant (Go), who is both charming and edgy as Danielle’s sinister “manager”.
In short, though it could arguably have used just a tad more sex, The Girl Next Door is an enjoyable teen sex comedy with an attractive cast and some decent gags. Besides, no film that features an Attack Parrot can be all bad.