The Girl Next Door (2004) starring Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano, Timothy Bottoms directed by Luke Greenfield Movie Review

The Girl Next Door (2004)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Elisha Cuthbert as Danielle in The Girl Next Door

Meet the Neighbour

A teenage boy discovers the girl next door who he is in love with is in fact a porn star, if that doesn't sound like an ideal set up for a teen sex comedy I don't know what will. The irony is that whilst "The Girl Next Door" is a teen sex comedy it is not the sort which relies on juvenile humour and just sex gags. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's the thinking man's "American Pie" but it certainly feels more intelligent and grown up in almost every element. And more importantly it has characters that we can warm to as well as those we can boo and hiss at in a comical way.

Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch - Milk) is a squeaky clean student, he studies hard, keeps away from trouble and has a good chance of going to the college he wants on a scholarship. But then he meets Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert - Love Actually) who has moved in next door and he immediately takes a shine to the bubbly blonde who likes hanging around with him. The only trouble is that thanks to his best friend Eli (Chris Marquette), he discovers that Danielle was a porn star and not only that her former producer Kelly (Timothy Olyphant) shows up to take her back.

Emile Hirsch as Matthew Kidman in The Girl Next Door

In many ways "The Girl Next Door" is a journey movie as in that we have a storyline which evolves, it grows the longer the movie goes on. But for the first half it is all about the relationship which forms between Matthew and Danielle. We watch as the squeaky clean Matthew falls for the sexy Danielle, discovers she is a porn star and that affects the way he sees her. In turn this leads to her giving up on trying to start a new life and returning to being a porn star with her producer Kelly.

This first half is simple but also sweet and amusing as you get a sense of a real fondness between Matthew and Danielle. It's because of this we warm to them as a couple and feel for them both when Matthew acts like a jerk when he discovers that she had been a porn star. This also leads to some of the movies funnier moments when Matthew has visions of Danielle performing sex acts on his parents, which are actually surprisingly clever.

The thing is that this relationship whilst pivotal to the whole movie actually only takes centre stage for half of the movie. The second half evolves with Matthew having issues with Kelly and in need of making a lot of money very quickly. I won't say anymore other than to say the way the story unfolds it cleverly leads us to think certain things and then switches them around when we realise what is happening. As I said earlier on I would call it the thinking man's "American Pie" but it is certainly cleverer with a script which doesn't resort to the lowest denominator of humour to get laughs.

The thing about "The Girl Next Door" is that whilst we have a movie about teen sex, porn stars, high school bullies and geeks it isn't stupid. The trio of writers and director have crafted a movie which whilst fun for young audiences isn't stupid, even when it does become a little more far fetched. It even has a nice touching side to it when it comes to the romantic element reminiscent to teen romantic comedies from the 80s in the way it charms you.

A big reason why it charms you is because of the pairing of Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert they look good together and are believable when it comes to the romance. Basically they get across the fun as well as the emotion of their characters and how they feel towards each other and you warm to them. It also means that whilst Hirsch and Cuthbert charm us we get Timothy Olyphant delivering big laughs as the villainous Kelly and more teen geeky laughs from Chris Marquette and Paul Dano. It makes it a well balanced movie because you know what you are going to get from each scene yet it doesn't feel predictable especially when you have Kelly who is a bit of a livewire character.

What this all boils down to is that "The Girl Next Door" is a pleasant surprise because whilst a teen sex comedy it's neither juvenile or stupid. In fact it has a rather nice romantic storyline interweaved with plenty of fun without ever resorting to body fluid gags like other teen comedies.