April 15, 2004

The Girl Next Door

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Ah, high school … where the cool kids ditched school every day to engage in orgies on the beach while the nerds stayed in school to hold math club meetings. Doesn’t ring any bells?

While the newest Hollywood high school drama may not bring tears of nostalgia to your eyes, The Girl Next Door is a welcome change from the cheesy and predictable teen movies that we have come to expect. Ok, so the The Girl Next Door is a little bit predictable; hell, it’s even quite cheesy, but it manages to pull it off, mostly due to the efforts of its talented cast, in an entertaining and sweet fashion.

When an extremely hot girl becomes the new next-door neighbor of Matthew (Emile Hirsch), a socially inept, Georgetown-bound senior, he is struck speechless as she begins stripping right outside his bedroom window. Before she can fulfill his voyeuristic fantasies, she spots him, and, much to his horror, marches herself over to his house. But instead of ratting him out to his parents, Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) takes Matthew out for a spin in her silver Beetle.

In the middle of a dark street, she stops and coyly inquires, “Did you like what you saw?” While Matthew is stammering for a response, she requests that he strip to make up for seeing her naked. He complies, only to find her driving off with his underpants.

Over the next few days, Matthew starts falling for Danielle as she engages him in more crazy stunts, giving him the confidence that comes from being with a smoking hot chick.

But the sappy stuff ends when Matt’s porn-obsessed friend, Eli (Chris Marquette), shows him an adult-video featuring (gasp!) his new girlfriend. Confused, Matt follows Eli’s advice and takes Danielle to a sleazy motel in hopes of having some porno-inspired sex. His thinly veiled intentions greatly upset Danielle, and cause her to believe that she can never forget her porn-star past.

She packs up her stuff and leaves for an adult-movie convention in Vegas with her seedy but smooth-talking manager, Kelly (wonderfully played by Timothy Olyphant). Undeterred, Matt, Eli, and Klitz (Paul Dano), the third member of their “tripod,” as Eli terms it, follow them to Vegas, and find themselves in a world unlike anything they have ever imagined.

What makes this movie a notch above its peers, however, is entirely due to the characters themselves. Cuthbert is lovely as Danielle, and carries a sense of dignity and vulnerability to her role as the reformed porn star. Hirsch does a superb job portraying the emotions of a teenage boy who discovers love and finds it more fulfilling than any academic achievement.

When Matt realizes this, he is finally able to give his scholarship speech on what it means to possess a moral character. So, if you want a morality lesson this weekend, forget The Passion of the Christ, go watch The Girl Next Door.

Archived article by Yiwei Wang
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer