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With: Elisha Cuthbert, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano
Written by: Stuart Blumberg, David T. Wagner, Brent Goldberg
Directed by: Luke Greenfield
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, language and some drug/alcohol use
Running Time: 109
Date: 02/18/2004

The Girl Next Door (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pop Porn

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With The Girl Next Door Elisha Cuthbert (from TV's "24") makes ahuge big-screen splash worthy of Clara Bow or Brigitte Bardot -- almost.When she first appears, she combines a refined sex appeal with cuddly,approachable warmth; she suggests danger and comfort at the same time.Shockingly beautiful, she's by far the most potent force in the film.But near the halfway point director Luke Greenfield (The Animal)forgets all about her. He instead focuses on our hapless, feckless heroMatthew (Emile Hirsch), a good student who decides that he really hasn'tlived his life. When he meets Danielle (Cuthbert), a former porn stargone straight, he gets a taste for recklessness. He even goes all theway to Vegas to rescue her from her former producer/manager Kelly(Timothy Olyphant). But when Kelly steals Matthew's money, he produceshis own "porn" video to recoup his loss. By that time, Danielle hasnothing to do but smile and encourage her man. It's a hugelydisappointing drop from near-greatness to sheer mediocrity. Not even thefive credited writers -- Greenfield, David Wagner, Brent Goldberg,Stuart Blumberg and Christopher McKenna -- could see or fix the problem.It had a chance to be another Risky Business or a Say Anything, andnow it's just another teen movie.

DVD Details: Fox Home Video has released The Girl Next Door in a standard "R" rated edition and an "unrated" edition, packaged with a brown paper wraparound to make it look as if Elisha Cuthbert is naked on the cover. She's not, and the movie is not that drastically different. It contains a couple of alternate shots and maybe a few extra seconds of minor nudity. Extras include deledted/extended scenes (also without much sex), a gag reel, a standard featurette "A Look Next Door" and a sexier featurette, "The Eli Experience," in which the Eli character goes to Las Vegas for the real AVN awards, a photo gallery, and scene-specific commentary tracks by Greenfield and Cuthbert. I only wish that this "unrated" version had given Cuthbert something to do in the film's final third. Hers could have been the breakthrough performance of the year.

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