The Girl Next Door (2004)

The Girl Next Door
Director: Luke Greenfield
Writer: Stuart Blumberg, David Wagner, Brent Goldberg
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano

Matthew (Emile Hirsch) is a senior in high school and just applied for a scholarship to Brown university (given to students with special moral fiber). He’s rather geeky, though his best friends Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul Dano) are even geekier. But that changes when Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door. Matthew falls hard for Danielle and isn’t even deterred when he finds out that she’s a porn star. But she quickly turns his whole life upside down.

I was pretty sure that I would hate this film, Manic Pixie Dream Girl and all, but in the end it really wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Though that doesn’t make it any good, either.

On several occasions the movie comes really close to a rather offensive “saving the nice girl from a life of porn” storyline, but somehow they always manage to make a slight detour before it actually becomes puritanical. Though they can’t quite bring themselves to take an actual porn-positive stance (or approach the scene with much realism), they at least avoid the worst preaching.

Emile Hirsch and Paul Dano are generally really good (they were also the reason that I wanted to see this film) but they really didn’t get much to work with in this film. Timothy Olyphant had fun with his role at least. All three of then get much more to work with than Elisha Cuthbert who just does her usual MPDG routine and calls it a day.

It’s not like the film shows much interest in her as a character anyway. Which only made it harder, if not to say impossible, to care about her. Or any of the other characters, actually.

And that’s the movie’s biggest flaw: when the characters are so one-dimensional that you don’t care one bit about them, the movie that tells their story becomes real boring real quick.

Summarising: Mediocrity all around.

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