The Girl Next Door (2004)
Main cast: Emile Hirsch (Matthew Kidman), Elisha Cuthbert (Danielle), Timothy Olyphant (Kelly), James Remar (Hugo Posh), Chris Marquette (Eli), and Paul Dano (Klitz),
Director: Luke Greenfield


The people behind this movie must imagine that they have a cross between American Pie and Risky Business with The Girl Next Door, a supposedly controversial teen romantic comedy featuring a lead character who is an adult film actress.

Matthew Kidman and his friends Eli and Klitz are typical ordinary seniors in high school when Matthew discovers that the beautiful Danielle has moved in next door. He starts off by spying on her changing in her room and an unlikely romance blossoms... until he learns of her occupation and her movie producer/ex-boyfriend Kelly shows up. Danielle wants to quit the adult industry but Kelly is not so eager to lose his most popular star. Meanwhile, all kinds of hijinks occur to give this movie plenty of slapstick and body function jokes.

Matthew Kidman and Elisha Cuthbert manage to play a pair of sweet young lovebirds most nicely indeed while Timothy Olyphant can always be counted to steal the show with his adorable sociopath act. Kelly is a mean fellow who is also unexpectedly funny at times, which befuddles poor Matthew to no end. Generally, the cast do a pretty good job here in creating a sweet teen romantic movie.

Unfortunately, the movie is also too schizophrenic for its own good. On one hand, it seems to be advocating that even adult film actresses need respect since they are, after all, human beings like everyone else. The movie unfortunately takes the easy way out to deliver this message by turning Danielle into a stock poor-me young woman who has no other options in life while at the same time turn Danielle's colleagues in this movie into stereotypical brainless sex toys. The adult film industry backdrop is used as a punchline yet at the same time Danielle is supposed to represent a humanized aspect of the industry. Which is which? And honestly, Matthew comes off like a complete hypocrite to pant like a dog in heat when Danielle seems to reciprocate his affections to turn on the moral act when he realizes that she's an adult film actress. I have to wonder what really goes on in his head there - genuine moral outrage or just typical Whore/Madonna hypocrisy?

The movie sends out an overwhelmingly contradictory message that I am puzzled at the end of the day. The romance is sweet, the cast is fine, but the movie itself seems so confused about wanting to be a romantic movie or a comedy and to respect women or to be misogynistic. The Girl Next Door is therefore a watchable movie as long as nobody expects too much from it. It has a fabulous soundtrack, by the way.

Rating: 71


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