So overwhelmingly, "The Girl Next Door" has been criticized because it resembles "Risky Business" too much, but what if you haven't seen the early Tom Cruise flick? does the Elisha Cuthbert raunchy teen sex comedy warrant a watch? Well yes it does, but there are some undeniable flaws in the material.
So if you're not familiar with the premise here goes: Emile Hirsh plays Matthew Kidman, a bright kid who's getting ready for an important speech on "moral fibre". If he nails it, he's guaranteed a scholarship to college. Enter the girl next door, a sexpot named Danielle (played by Elisha Cuthbert) who takes a liking to him. Their relationship grows then hits a snag when Matthew learns that she's an ex-adult film star. Matthew has to figure out if he can accept his girlfriend's past, deal with it when some of her former co-workers show up and nail that big speech too.
As far as raunchy teen comedies go, this one is actually pretty tame. There are no gross-out jokes and although there are sequences with plenty of nudity, for a film that centres around pornography there is no full frontal and very little male nudity (maybe one or two quick glimpses). If you were hoping to see Elisha Cuthbert in her birthday suit, you're also out of luck (which was a big letdown for me and many others). In that department the movie is a disappointment. It doesn't really feel like the movie deals completely with its subject matter, though it does explore some of the issues around objectifying women.
What really works is the casting and the chemistry between the actors. Timothy Oliphant plays a great creep and although there isn't a single scene where he isn't a complete jerk he somehow still feels like a real person instead of a cartoon. As for the two leads they're well cast (even though if you've seen even a handful of pornographic material you'll realize that Cuthbert doesn't quite have that porn starlet look... don't ask me how I know that) and they have convincing chemistry between them. The sidekicks, in the form of Matthew's buddies are also a lot of fun in their complete ineptitude towards women.
The movie gets its standard (and predictable) plot points out of the way quickly thankfully so you do get that obligatory breakup then reunion of the leads but you don't see it lingering over the characters for an hour before it happens. There are also some nice twists when it comes to the antagonist and the ending is strong... except for the moments between Matthew and Danielle which are just too cheesy. There aren't a lot of big laughs, but there is a very entertaining sequence at a strip club and you'll have a decent amount of chuckles throughout. It's not a comedic powerhouse but it's entertaining all the way through.
Overall "The Girl Next Door" has a few raunchy bits and a sweet romance but it probably works better for the casual movie-goer than someone who's seen a lot of films. If you're drawn to it because of its premise you'll be disappointed that it only really skims the surface on the material but it's not a chore to sit through. Really the reason to see the movie is for the actors and their chemistry, not for the plot or the decent amount of laughs you'll get out of it. It's worth checking out but you'll likely outgrow it when you see more stories along the same lines. (Unrated version on Dvd, June 16, 2013)