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Monday, July 18, 2005
Movie: The Girl Next Door

The original movie poster Posted by Picasa

Over the weekend, I watched The Girl Next Door, a movie that came out last spring and was advertised as a teen-sex comedy featuring Elisha Cutherbert from 24. It quickly passed out of theaters, not making a whole lot of money and was considered a bomb.

Thankfully, we live in the day and age of DVD and VHS, so maybe these movies can find an audience (rentals and sales of the first (and funnies) Austin Powers helped create that franchise).

From the way this movie was advertised, I was expected one of those typical teen sex-romps along the lines of American Pie or Road Trip--you know the type I'm talking about with lots of guys trying to find ways to score with the attractive girl (in this case Elisha Cuthbert who pretty much was the marketing campaing--look, she's hot!) and some flatulence jokes.

Elisha Cuthbert Posted by Picasa

Instead, what we got was a movie that has something a lot of the typical teen sex romps that were popular for a while lacked--a heart.

OK, don't get me wrong here--this movie is not Shakespeare. It's probably not going to be considered one of those "New Classics" on TNT any time soon. But taken for what it's trying to be, it's actually a nice little movie that I really enjoyed (and not just because Elisha Cutherbert shows up and looks hot throughout the film.).

Going into his senior year, Matthew Kidman is a good, responsible kid. He's president of the senior class, he's helped raise money to bring a genius from an Asian country to the U.S. to study, he's got early acceptance into Georgetown. As we first meet him, he's filling out his senior memories sheet for his yearbook and finding he has nothing memorable to put down for his high school expereince. For all his accomplishments, Matt is a bit of a nerd and not accepted or popular with his peers. At one point, Matt imagines skipping class with a large group of seniors to go to the beach, only to come up with a wild Scrubs like fantasy scenario of what might happen if he does....and so he stays in school.

Until one day, Danielle moves in next door. Now, if you've seen the trailers, you know what happens. Matt sees Danielle undressing, she comes over and tries to bust him and then ends up embrassing him as well.

Over the course of the movie, Danielle asks Matt "What's the craziest thing you've done lately?" This is done after she makes him strip off her clothes and leaves him naked in the street and the two take a midnight swim in his principle's pool among other things.

Of course, we all know the twist--Matt finds out about Danielle's past and it's a doozy. She's a porn star whose moved out to the burbs to get away from her life. She's followed by Kelly, a producer played by Timothy Olyphant and he steals every scene he's in. Kelly takes Matt underwing as a kind of weird big brother figure, and eventually convinces Danielle to come back to the industry.

This movie is one that is radically different in tone from what the previews make it out to be. If you're expecting lots of nudity and sex, yes, you'll get it. But it's a movie that plays with expectations and has an actual lot of heart to it. More than I expected. The relationship between Danielle and Matt feels real and you can really see these two falling in love. At one point, Matt risks everything--including a scholarship that will make or break his going to Georgetown for Danielle. And she helps him to overcome his fears of being forgotten or always being the perfect student/son, etc and to do the right thing in pursuit of his true love. (Though he does have aspiriations of going into politics, which may be ruined by Danielle's checkered past should they stay together...) The movie does change tone several times, but it consistently shows the growth and development not only of Danielle but also Matt.

One of the most interesting scenes comes halfway through when Matt first finds out Danielle is a porn star. To this point, he's seen her as a person but he quickly objectifies her. To point that he takes her to a hotel room in a bad attempt at seduction. Danielle turns the tables, throwing it in his face and storms off after asking if this is what he wanted--to have sex with a porn star in a cheap hotel room? (I am paraphrasing here as there's another word used, but this is a family blog...or at least PG-13)

Now, I'll be honest here..this movie is not what I expected. It was better than I expected. I was pleasantly surpirsed at it and yes, there are some absurd plot twists in the last half hour, but it's one of those things that you're having so much fun you just go with it. It's not a laugh out loud, fall on the floor comedy and there's certainly no Stiffler character here (though Matt's buddy Eli comes close). But if you go into tthis one with an open mind and ignore how it was advertised, I think what you'll find is a decent little teen love story that actually has some heart. Yes, it's got a lot of swearing and a lot of it takes place in an around if you're offended by that, don't give this one a viewing. But if you can look past that, you'll see a movie about characters who challenge each other to do the right thing and take all the right, crazy risks for true love.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2005 03:18:00 PM | |
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