A/V Room









The Girl Next Door (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Directors commentary; Commentary from Hirsch and Cuthbert; Featurettes; Gag reels.

TELEVISION’S most inept damsel-in-distress, Elisha Cuthbert, bids to break away from her 24 persona by playing a porn star turned girl next door in this raunchy coming of age tale - but guess what, she still needs rescuing!

The actress stars as a former porn star, Danielle, who attempts to rediscover her innocence by befriending and falling in love with her shy, 18-year-old neighbour, Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch).

But what begins as an amusing variation on the coming-of-age theme, a la Risky Business and American Pie, soon heads off into wilder territory, as Danielle’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing the unassuming Kidman to resort to desperate measures to save her.

The ensuing romantic comedy thriller is nothing short of a boy’s wet dream, an occasionally fun, but ultimately embarrassing experience, that could have been scripted by a teenage member of the FHM/Maxim fan club.

It’s littered with voyeuristic excess, revelling in its ability to put Cuthbert in all sorts of underwear, while also throwing in strippers, more porn stars and any number of hot university campus babes.

Yet while there is a certain guilty pleasure to be had in watching proceedings undress, the film lacks the heart of the American Pie franchise, making it harder to forgive its more ridiculous elements.

Cuthbert, to be fair, injects a great deal of gusto into proceedings, demonstrating some genuine leading lady qualities, while also looking pretty darn hot, to boot.

But she is ill-served by some of the plot contrivances, some of which make her encounter with a mountain cat, in 24, seem like a work of genius.

Hence, when Danielle is coerced back into the world of porn by her edgy former producer, Kelly (Timothy Olyphant), it is down to Kidman’s straight-arrow over-achiever to drive to Las Vegas to rescue her, complete with geeky friends in tow.

And when Kelly bids to get revenge on Kidman for ‘robbing’ him of his biggest asset, it is then up to Danielle, and her porn-star companions, to devise an elaborate ruse to help Kidman out of his tight spot.

The result is a hopelessly puerile mess, which doesn’t know when to call it a day, despite the best efforts of its performers.

Director, Luke Greenfield, is guilty of over-egging his pudding, turning what could have been a harmless 90-minute fun-feast into a wildly extravagant orgy of excess.

Some of the situations he places his characters in veer towards the cringe-inducing, with Cuthbert, especially, forced to bear the brunt of some particularly awkward situations, while Hirsch also suffers during the latter part of proceedings, failing to really cut it as a figure worthy of Danielle’s affections, or of going up against the likes of Olyphant.

The film also falls victim to the need for an overly-preachy happy-ending, with just about everyone learning some valuable life-lesson in the process.

As a result, it lacks the cool, hip, edginess of something like Go, or Risky Business, and sits uncomfortably in between the genres it is attempting to straddle.

If you’re a fan of Cuthbert, or FHM photo-shoots, then this is probably worth a gawp, but this ultimately fails to measure up to the sum of its parts.

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