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    The Girl Next Door

    2004, R, 110 minutes

    By Ray Justavick...

    The Girl Next Door is being touted in advertisements as “Risky Business meets American Pie," but sitting in the theater watching this movie unspool before my very own eyes, I couldn’t help but think of another movie it reminded me of: John Carpenter’s The Thing.

    You see, The Thing is about this life form from outer space that has the ability to mimic everything that it touches, by basically hijacking every cell in the poor unsuspecting victim’s body. Before long, the title creature has taken over just about every member of the cast, and when it finally attacks our main hero at the end, it has the physical appearance of every single thing that it has come into contact with. This brings us back to the feature that we are supposed to be talking about.

    The Girl Next Door is not much more than an imitation of every other teen sex comedy (and some adult ones) that you have ever seen in your life, and while it manages to move from point A to point B without any real god awful moments, it is still nothing more than a cheap imitation of better, funnier teen fun romps. There is the geeky kid who is a square in school and too stiff to let himself go and get crazy once in a while, the girl that comes into his life and teaches him to live a little while she herself is dealing with a rough past and trying to move beyond it, and the geeky kid’s friends who just want to have some crazy sexual adventures before they graduate high school.

    The movie is like a “greatest hits” of teen comedy movie moments, taking stuff that has been done better in other movies and combining it all into one film. Its biggest influence would be Risky Business, but instead of a young Tom Cruise turning his parents house into a brothel, here we have a young Emile Hirsch who plays Matt Kidman, a high school senior with dreams of a political future, embarking on some wild nights with his new neighbor Danielle, who just happens to be a porn star with a heart of gold (think Pretty Woman).

    Now, with a premise like that, you may be expecting The Girl Next Door to be a wild, raucous comedy that cheerfully goes to any length for a good crude joke, but you would be wrong. This movie, in its drive to please the audience, has lifted ideas from every comedy that has been popular with audiences the past few years and has thrown them all into this stew of a film, and the results are murky at best. The jokes are humorous, but they all have a familiar ring to them, as if you have heard them before. The film, while not boring, never seems to liven up any until the arrival of Kelly, played by Timothy Olyphant.

    Olyphant is the only one in the cast who seems to be having any real fun with his role. He’s chewing up scenery as the mean spirited, back stabbing, and money grubbing Kelly, who used to be Danielle’s adult film producer and is now looking to get back some money he claims she owes him. His scenes are fast-paced and exciting, and if you laugh hard during this movie, odds are it will be because of him.

    Everyone else does a fine, if somewhat sedated, job of bringing their characters to life. Hirsch is fine as the zero that becomes a hero. Cuthbert is stunningly attractive, but is given nothing to do in this role but to be attractive.

    What really strikes me as odd is that this film had three writers. It seems like two too many based on what the end results are. Maybe they needed three to write down as many funny moments as they could from as many comedies as they remembered before the script deadline. It seems that way, because while The Girl Next Door is not a bad movie, and it certainly is a few notches above the average gross-out comedies that it emulates, it’s just so busy being other movies that it never truly settles into being its own.

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    Information & Credits

    Directed by: Luke Greenfield
    Written by: David Wagner, Brent Goldberg, Christopher McKenna, Luke Greenfield, Stuart Blumberg
    Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Paul Franklin Dano, Christopher Marquette

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