Movie Review

The Girl Next Door

Is the juice worth the squeeze?
The Girl Next Door Movie Poster

US Release Date: 04-09-2004

Directed by: Luke Greenfield


  • Emile Hirsch
  • Matthew
  • Elisha Cuthbert
  • Danielle
  • Timothy Olyphant
  • Kelly
  • James Remar
  • Hugo Posh
  • Chris Marquette
  • Eli
  • Paul Dano
  • Klitz
  • Timothy Bottoms
  • Mr. Kidman
  • Donna Bullock
  • Mrs. Kidman
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: February 27th, 2004
Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door.

Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door.

One of the nicest things that can happen to a film critic is to be surprised by a movie for which you had no expectations, as I was by The Girl Next Door. Here is a movie that barely registered on my radar before seeing it, except for the brief flash that passed through my mind of, "Oh, another teen sex comedy." However, never was the old adage of not judging a book by its cover truer than with this movie. It's smart, funny, and features a cast that we will definitely be hearing more from soon.

Relatively unknown Emile Hirsch plays Matthew, a straight-arrow high school senior on the eve of his graduation. President of the Student Government, he has just been accepted into Georgetown University, from where he hopes to launch a career in politics. But as his high-school days begin to wind down, he starts to wonder if he hasn't missed out on certain experiences by playing things too safely. While the lonely and awkward high-school boy, with a couple of geeky friends, is not a new device in movies, rarely has it been played so well and with such a script. I feel assured that this movie will push Hirsch into the spotlight.

When Matthew meets Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert of TV's 24), the titular girl next door, it seems that he has found the person who can pull him into the real world. Beautiful and daring, she shows him that sometimes you have to take chances and stand-up for yourself. Hers is definitely the weaker of the two lead characters however, as she is never as fully fleshed out as Matthew.

Just when everything is looking up for him, one of Matthew's friends shows him a porn video starring Danielle. It seems that the girl of his dreams is a former porn star trying to start a new life. The first, and sweetest, portion of the movie deals with their budding relationship and Matthew's attempts to come to grips with this discovery about Danielle's past.

The second, and much wilder, half of the movie covers the return of Danielle's old video producer (played with swaggering gusto by Timothy Olyphant) and his attempts to get Danielle back into the porn biz, while Matthew juggles trying to keep her out of it and graduate high-school and win a scholarship at the same time. Some of the actions here, while very funny, do stretch the realms of believability, but that is this movie's only weakness.

Some of the funniest moments in the movie come from its supporting cast. Matthew's two friends, particularly Chris Marquette as Eli; the budding film director, steal several scenes and add greatly to the laughs.

If I seem overly exuberant about The Girl Next Door, it is only because a movie this smart, funny, charming, and with such a great cast, comes along very rarely. Take advantage of this one while you can.

Reviewed on: August 28th, 2004
Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door.

Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door.

Smart, my ass. This movie has a high school senior get tricked into stealing an erection shaped trophy. This movie has a nerd find satisfaction by hearing someone say his penis is huge. This movie has a wannabe porn star and her muscle bound boyfriend beg two high school students to touch her breasts. Smart is the last word I would use in describing this film.

It starts as if it might be an intelligent film. A teenager who is not popular or outgoing meets a hot chick who shows him how to take some risks and enjoy life. The teenager shows the girl that she is more than just a sex toy. They save each other. Unfortunately, that is only one third of the movie.

The last two thirds is Porky's meets Risky Business. There are scumbag bad guys and several tit shots. The relationship between the virgin boy and the porn star seems to stall as the plot steers way off course. A bad guy steals some money, so the boy makes a sex education film with pornstars. The boy's parents and the public school system love it. The nude filled education film makes everyone lots of money and they all live happily ever after. Again, smart is not the first word coming to me as I write this.

My favorite part in this intellectually stimulating film is Elisha Cuthbert. She is hot like there is no tomorrow. She seems to be channeling a young Debbie Harry. Occasionally, a little Marilyn Monroe slips in there. Cuthbert has a body with all the right curves. Even when this movie was blinding with its smarts I was able to distract myself by watching her.

Reviewed on: April 7th, 2005
Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door.

Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door.

There is something appealing about this movie. The first 35 minutes are very good. I was as intrigued as my brothers by the budding relationship between the over-achieving high-school-kid and the former porn star. It is a sweet and intelligent beginning. Unfortunately it falls over the precipice of believability at about the one hour mark.

Up until then I wasn't sure exactly how the movie would turn out. Oh, I had a pretty good idea where things were heading but I wasn't 100% sure. After all any movie that shows a high school senior fantasizing that the gorgeous, new, girl-next-door is making out with his mom could turn out several different ways.

But once it becomes clear what Mathew and his friend's plans for the prom are the movie runs out of steam. They just didn't know how to end it. Instead of going for a more low key realistic ending they went big, for the Walt Disney finish. It gets a bit syrupy.

One quick thought. Why is it that men in the porn industry are always portrayed as bad guys while the women are always victims?

As much as I think Scott is overly infatuated with this movie I also disagree with Eric's reasons for calling it dumb. Sexual inhibitions and intelligence have nothing to do with each other. I found Girl Next Door to be refreshing in its liberal approach to sex. It's just too bad they didn't find a more intelligent way to end it, erection shaped trophies and all.