The Girl Next Door (2004) — Risky Business redo

“I just wanna let you know, I know who you really are, and you’re better than this.”

Kyle’s rating: Kind of redundant, but ultimately a worthy update

Kyle’s Review: When I rented The Girl Next Door, I was totally expecting crap. I don’t really know why. I guess I just didn’t have faith in the modern sex comedy, despite the surprising charms of American Pie and some other stuff. Does Sorority Boys count? I like that, too. Despite Elisha Cuthbert, the pornography angle, and the story’s combination of Elisha Cuthbert + pornography, I had extraordinary low expectations. I didn’t even care to see it in the theaters, and by the time I thought I might like to go after all, I think it was already gone.

Imagine my surprise when I popped the disc in after midnight, fully expecting the movie to put me to sleep, and I ended up finding a third wind and staying up to watch it. I watched it again in the morning to figure out if I really did like it or if it was a false positive. Nope, I really liked it. Sure, like a lot of critics said, it’s pretty much just a modern remake of Risky Business with a couple tweaks (like “former porn star” for “prostitute,” and this time it’s the pimp/producer who has the nice car), but it’s worth a look.

Surprised? Hey, I was, too. Just go with it. Like they said in Risky Business, and here as well: sometimes you just have to say “**** it.”

I wanted to review the film for quite a long time. In fact, I wanted to review it the same day I returned it, because I was so big on it and that seemed like a good time to make sure it got a first look from people. It defeated me, though. See, it’s a really complex movie to describe, because there is a ton of stuff going on. Sort of. I mean, the story is fairly straightforward, but there is a lot of “flavor” and “nuance” thrown in to make it really memorable.

It’s simple: graduating high school senior falls hard for the new girl next door, freaks out when one of his best friends reveals she’s been in hardcore pornography, loses the girl, gets the girl back, gets into hot water with her ex-boyfriend/producer, and has to solve all his problems and her problems with a big last-minute prom night plan/scam. All without his parents finding out, while trying to get into his dream college, and facing the final days of friendship with his two best friends. See? Simple!

Cuthbert is great eye candy, although not doing any kind of true nude scene (a rear almost-shot just doesn’t cut it) is unforgivable, considering the plot. Emile Hirsch does great in the Tom Cruise role, and ends up carrying a lot of the weight, since Cuthbert’s character is more of a dream-girl cipher who substitutes hot-ttitude for actual depth (if you’re a guy, you won’t mind).

Hirsch is up for it, though: between this and a more layered part as Jay Adams in Lords of Dogtown, he should be up for MTV awards and more pretty soon. Timothy Olymphant kind of the steals the show as the porn producer (the updated version of Joe Patoliano’s “killer pimp”), though Cuthbert’s beauty and the admirable friendship angle help restore the balance. I like the guys who play Hirsch’s friends, as well; an important element in the film, since the moral seems to be without close friends and realizing that you have close friends, you’ll never get the porn star and college education of your dreams. Something we can all relate to, right?

So ultimately would I rather be the guy with hot porno girlfriend or Olymphant’s super-confident porno producer? It’s one of those age-old questions we all have to answer for ourselves. I’m glad The Girl Next Door does a great job attempting to draw that question out for all of us! Thanks, fellow sex-obsessed filmmakers!

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