The phrase “The Girl Next Door” has adopted a lot of different meanings in the past 2 decades.
It used to mean harmless, charming, attractive yet meek. The sweet kind of girl we all knew as kids.
Nowadays, the phrase has taken on a more sexual and erotic connotation.
The central character, Danielle, in the new film “The Girl Next Door” is a little of both meanings.
Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch), a high school boy, mistakenly sees his neighbor, Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) in a compromising position late one night through an upstairs window. Danielle catches Matthew peeping and marches over to his house for an apology.
That chain events unlocks a new side of Matthew as he begins to fall in love with the girl soon after their courtship begins he learns through some friends at school that Danielle is actually an “on-the-run” porn actress who just wants a new life.
Danielle hasn’t run far enough way as Kelly (Timothy Olyphant), her corrupt manager soon arrives in their lives and forces Danielle back to work for him. She is gorgeous, smart, and funny everything Matthew would want in a girl.
How is Matthew supposed to rescue the girl of his dreams? And how can he hope to when he is just a kid still in high school.
In some ways, “The Girl Next Door” is in the same vain as “Risky Business” except in that film you had prostitutes instead of pornstars. There is also the mixing of the sweet and innocent side with the sleazy sex business side. The main differences between the films are the portrayals of the young male leads.
Cruise’s film does show his character evolve a lot more than Hirsch. Cruise is also able to act older where Hirsch always looks like he is probably 6 years younger than the character he is playing.
I really like Hirsch but his whole role here seemed kind of odd. Cuthbert’s Danielle looks way older than him.
I felt a little weird that the film characterized porn people as idols. The porn manager character’s attempts to lure high school girls into the biz.
The ideas of high school boys taking porn actresses to the prom. And the idea of filming a porn film at the school was also weird. These ideas, even though they were in a humor context, made me a little squeamish. What were they trying to film here, the Traci Lords story as seen through the eyes of a PEZ dispenser?
It was really hard to accept the merging of these two worlds.
The portrayals by Olyphant and James Remar as porn tycoons were probably the best of the piece. I really liked how they grasped their roles.
Remar did play his role closely to the role he played on “Sex & the City” but it was Olyphant who was the one to watch. This guy ate scenery and blew Cuthbert out of the water.
If you can look past the odd merging of worlds and enjoy the film as a comedy then you probably will have a lot of fun with it. I didn’t find it particularly sweet like I did with “Tadpole” but I am not sure if its goal was to be sweet. At least for me the subject matter got in the way of the laughs. There are some strong performances but over all it is a toss up.
3 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer.