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The Girl Next Door
2004 - R - 110 Mins.
Director: Luke Greenfield
Producer: Harry Gittes, Charles Gordon
Written By: David Wagner, Brent Goldberg
Starring: Emile Hirsch Elisha Cuthbert Timothy Olyphant Chris Marquette Paul Dano
Review by: Greg Ursic

What's Risky about it?
Matty is a classic overachiever: he’s class president, has been accepted into the exclusive university of his choice, single-handedly raised the money needed to bring a Cambodian wunderkind to study in America and is currently under consideration for a prestigious entry scholarship. But as he wracks his brain for something witty to put in the yearbook, he realizes that while he’s been so busy achieving everything, he hasn’t actually done anything. Potential arrives in the form of Danielle the free spirited bombshell house-sitting niece of the woman next door. Matty is instantly smitten, but quickly discovers that appearances can be deceiving, and learns that to get what you want you may have to put everything on the line.

Emile Hirsch was originally leery of playing Matthew, as he didn’t want to do a one note character in a run of the mill teen comedy, but changed his mind after reading the script. Hirsch has an unassuming quality that blends well with his take on Matt’s innocence-to-worldliness evolution: you fidget in your seat and laugh nervously when Matt steps out of his comfort zone and tries to act cool, calling on a bravado that isn’t there. Hirsch ensures that Matt’s eventual confidence isn’t arrogance, which makes him likeable, making it all the more painful to watch Matt’s safe suburban dream crumble around him.

Serving as Matt’s muse is Elisha Cuthbert (of 24 fame), who shines as Danielle, the girl looking to leave her past behind. Danielle isn’t a stretch for Cuthbert (well, except for the porn past): gorgeous, and the picture of mischievous spontaneity, she possesses a smile that would surely inspire legions of males (teen or not) to do whatever she asked. Hirsch and Cuthbert share a palpable spark that sustains the characters throughout their tumultuous and somewhat unconventional relationship (for me anyways - I don’t know a lot of guys who have dated former porn stars). Adding to the mix is a solid supporting cast.

Timothy Olyphant oozes sleazy charisma as Kelly, Danielle’s manager who is equal parts, flattering, funny and frightening. An atypical villain, Kelly is determined not to lose his money ticket, yet in a warped display of compassion, takes Matt under his wing, and provides him with some real life wisdom. Chris Marquette is riotous as Eli, Matt’s outrageous porn obsessed best friend and aspiring filmmaker, who is preoccupied with the notion of “banging hot chicks”. Marquette delivers the bulk of the movie’s best lines, ludicrous though they are and does so with such gusto that you can’t help be amused. Finally, Paul Dano’s dull, disenfranchised Klitz – the third leg in the tripod - personifies plain, but displays a definite hint of subterranean greatness beneath the bland.

The soundtrack’s 37 songs (yes, you read that correctly) were chosen by the director and samples three decades of musical stylings, running the spectrum from hip hop to classic rock Each song meshes masterfully with the onscreen action creating mood and emphasizing emotion.

A novel take on the trials of first love and commitment, “The Girl Next Door” is lewd, a little crude, and has more than a few nudes, but for a movie that uses the porn industry as its background it’s actually pretty tame. It is also funny, touching, and well-written, rising above the above the tacky tripe typical of teen romantic comedies, deserving of the title “Risky Business Lite of the New Millennium”.

Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

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