April 23, 2004 -- Teen sex comedies just keep getting sleazier all the time. The best you can say about this trend is that Hollywood is getting more honest about its morality. The studios would like you to think they're morally superior to the pornographic movie industry. In reality, it is all the same movie business. Look no further than “The Girl Next Door” for the proof. There is a definite merging of genres going on here. Rich in cynicism and morally loose, it is nevertheless a fun film if you don't take it seriously.
Movies about virginal prostitutes like “Pretty Woman” are an old Hollywood standard, but virginal porn stars? That's new. In “The Girl Next Door,” Danielle (played by the melt-your-fillings-hot Elisha Cuthbert of the TV show “24”) moves in next door to type-A high school student Matthew Kidman (played by Emile Hirsch of “The Emperor's Club”). Little does he know, she is a porn star. After playing peeping Tom, he instantly falls in love with Danielle and goes out with her a time or two. When the kids at school get a load of Danielle, Kidman's status changes from that of geek to BMOC. When Kidman finds out that Danielle is a porn star, he is crushed, but then, he figures “What the Hell? Who's worried about STDs?” and he decides to get back together with her. There are the usual misunderstandings and misadventures before we end up with a kind of “Risky Business” get-rich-quick scheme.
The acting is quite good, but the guy who steals the show is Timothy Olyphant of “A Man Apart,” who plays Kelly, Danielle's sleazy, skin-flick producer. Kelly is the perfect sleazeball porn character. He is delightfully over the top. He is one of the best slimeball characters I've seen in a long time. Part of his charm is that he has so much fun with this role. Cuthbert and Hirsch are also outstanding. It is no easy task to make this unlikely romance work, but they make it believable. Also good are Kidman's friends Eli and Klitz (played by Chris Marquette of “Freddy Vs. Jason” and Paul Dano of “Taking Lives,” respectively). Of note in a minor role is Timothy Bottoms as Kidman's father. You may recall Bottoms starred seminal films like “The Last Picture Show” and “The Paper Chase” in the early 1970s. Although the story is wobbly and clichéd at best, there is enough genuine humanity and romance in it for me to give it a pass. Call it a guilty pleasure. This film rates a C+. Don't expect to get away unscathed by this film, however. Unless you are very cynical, or morally bankrupt, you are going to feel slimed by the experience.
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