Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsh) is mere weeks from graduation, but he has no memories of his high school years. Oh, he’s done good in class, he’s student council president and all that, but he’s never truly lived his youth, he’s never done anything… crazy. So when gorgeous young blonde Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves next door and inspires him to loosen up, that’s just what the doctor ordered. But how will our “straight-arrow” young man react when he learns that the girl next door is actually a porn star? As Tom Cruise once put it, “Sometimes you gotta say, what the fuck.” That’s pretty much the lesson here: Matthew keeps finding himself in impossible situations and he must overcome his self-consciousness and just go with it.
“The Girl Next Door” is a whole lot of fun and then some. Hollywood has churned out tons of high school movies in the past few years and you’ve got a handful of obligatory scenes that we’ve seen countless times, but throw a bunch of porn stars in there and that’s bound to make things exciting again! For instance, there’s a road trip at some point but it’s not just any road trip, it’s a road trip to Las Vegas, and it’s not just any Las Vegas road trip, it’s a road trip to Vegas’s AVN porn convention!
Elisha Cuthbert is ridiculously hot, and director Luke Greenfield shoots her like a golden goddess; she’s pure sex in this movie! She’s got a sweeter side, too, helping Matthew come of age and stuff, but her character isn’t developed much further than that. We never learn how she got into the adult movie industry, for example, but I can see why the filmmakers didn’t go there. This a comedy after all and if you throw in scenes in which she pours her heart out about being abused as a kid, dropping out of school, ending up on the street, getting addicted to blow and being forced by a boyfriend into porn, it’s not so funny anymore, huh.
Plus, despite what the title might indicate, the movie’s not about the porn star next door nearly as much as it about the guy who loves her. Thus Emile Hirsh gets the richer character, and he makes the most of it. I thought he was neat in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys a couple of years ago, but this is his star turn. He’s got great comic timing and he’s immensely likable, especially as his confidence grows and he goes from geek to Mr. Cool. He’s like Anthony Michael Hall circa 1985, only better looking!
Hirsh gets the best smart-ass sidekick he could ever hope for in Chris Marquette. He’s Jason Lee funny, honest! Marquette’s Eli is as shamelessly horny as Matthew is sensitive, proudly wearing a Vivid Video cap and saying it like it is. “Goddamnit Matt! I swear to God if you don’t fuck her, I’ll kill myself!” I also loved Timothy Olyphant as Danielle’s adult film producer ex-boyfriend. The guy is a total dick, but Olyphant fills him with so much sleazy charisma that even as he’s making Matthew’s life hell, you can’t help but think, “This dude rocks!”
The movie also makes great use of classic rock songs (and waka-waka-waka porno funk music, natch) and when you combine this with the story’s heartfelt core, we’re almost in Cameron Crowe territory. “The Girl Next Door” is as funny as Elisha Cuthbert is sexy, and that’s saying a lot!