Pretense and cast fail `The Girl Next Door'

Aspiration for class falls short in movie

April 09, 2004|By Jay Boyar | Jay Boyar,ORLANDO SENTINEL

In The Girl Next Door, an 18-year-old overachiever falls for the new girl next door, who turns out to be an ex-porn star.

This leering premise, the production notes solemnly explain, "could easily have been turned into a raucous teen comedy." But director Luke Greenfield was after bigger fish - something "heartfelt, edgy and a little bit scary." So instead of an unpretentious sex farce, what we have here is a sex farce with artistic pretensions. It wants to pretend it has class.

The production notes don't single out Risky Business, but the 1983 Tom Cruise comedy seems like what Greenfield had in mind.

Matthew is an ambitious straight arrow who comes unglued when circumstances and a pretty face conspire to upset his tidy world. Entranced by his neighbor, the winsome Danielle, Matthew finds himself in some pretty risky business.

Kelly, a charming thug who used to be Danielle's producer, is determined that she should come back to the porn world. To save her, Matthew must descend into that world.

Part of what's wrong here is that Emile Hirsch, as Matthew, doesn't have the star power to carry a movie. And as Danielle, Elisha Cuthbert (TV's 24) is fine in the early scenes, when she's just supposed to look va-va-va-voom sexy. But later, when actual acting is called for, she isn't always up to the task.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

The Girl Next Door

Starring Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant

Directed by Luke Greenfield

Rated R (strong sexual content, language, drug use)

Released by 20th Century Fox

Time 110 minutes

Sun Score *1/2

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