The Girl Next Door (Unrated Version)
Fox // Unrated // $29.99 // August 24, 2004
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 8, 2004
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The Movie:

"Girl Next Door" begins to lose its footing at times, but the picture is often thoughtful and, despite the film's lowbrow humor, the characters largely remain very likable. The film focuses on Matthew (Emile Hirsch), a high school senior who doesn't know what to write when it comes to what he'll remember about being in high school. He spends his time hanging out with Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul Dano) and gets looks of indifference when he announces to his class that he's raised enough cash to bring over a genius exchange student.

One night, he notices a beautiful blond named Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert of "24") move in next door. His attempts to spy on her fail miserably when he gets busted looking into her window with his lights on. As her version of "revenge", she drives him into the middle of the street and has him strip with the lights on, then jets off.

It's not long before Matthew finds out - via one of his friends - that Danielle has a past as an adult film actress. Aside from that, Kelly (Timothy Olyphant), the adult star producer who isn't exactly pleased that both Danielle has left the business and that Matthew is trying to assist her on the road to something new. Olyphant's creepy, somewhat scary performance, despite being convincing, feels like it's taken too far in a film that started off like another teen comedy.

Yet, what holds the picture together is the core romance between the Hirsch and Cuthbert characters. Despite being a comedy that's sexual in nature and could have gone for embarassment and gross-out, the chemistry between the two leads is certainly there and their romance is awfully sweet, despite the occasional somewhat turns the film takes in the middle portion. Supporting performances are generally solid, too. It's all backed by a wonderfully chosen soundtrack, complete with a series of classic and current tunes.

"Girl Next Door" screws up along the way, but it certainly does more right than wrong. Marketed as a sex comedy, the picture does offer a bit in the way of sex, but also manages to work in a lot of high school, relationship and friendship issues within the risque subject matter. We get to know these two main characters and despite the unlikelyhood of some of the situations, care about them enough to want their eventual happiness. "Girl" could have been a great film with some retooling, but I was content with it being merely a very good one.

The Unrated DVD includes 9 additional minutes, including some additional glimpses of nudity.


VIDEO: "Girl Next Door" is presented by Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film's image quality is generally excellent. Sharpness and detail aren't exceptional, but the picture at least remained well-defined and crisp, with little in the way of slight softness or other inconsistencies.

Only a few little issues popped up along the way - a tiny trace or two of pixelation and a mark or two on the print used. Edge enhancement wasn't present, nor were any other issues. Colors generally remained natural and even a little subdued, but seemed accurately presented.

SOUND: "Girl Next Door" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound design does capture the outstanding soundtrack quite well, although it doesn't exactly have a great deal else to offer. Given that this is a comedy that mostly takes place in interiors, that's pretty understandable. Surrounds do reinforce the music quite nicely, but they aren't called upon to offer sound effects or do much else. Audio quality is fine, as dialogue remained well-recorded and score/soundtrack remained crisp and dynamic.

EXTRAS: Director Luke Greenfield provides an audio commentary. Greenfield provides a enthusiastic commentary that provides a 50/50 mixture of production commentary and general film discussion. During the film discussion, Greenfield discusses some of his rememberances of hanging out with similar friends in high school, chats about story ideas/writing/alternate concepts and working with the actors. A subtitle fact/trivia track is also included on the side of the disc with the film itself.

Flip the disc and you'll find an assortment of additional features. Actors Elisha Cuthbert and Emile Hirsch separately provide scene-specific commentary for 5 scenes and 4 scenes, respectively. "The Eli Experience" is a featurette that takes a look at actor Chris Marquette's visit to the Adult Video News awards.

A decent-sized gag reel contains a few good laughs, and there's also a still gallery and trailers to look through. Rounding out the platter is the "making of", "A Look Next Door".

Final Thoughts: "Girl Next Door" snags somewhat in the middle, but the opening and closing thirds of the film are well-done and the performances are generally very good throughout - Cuthbert and Hirsch are very good together. Fox's DVD does offer a fine amount of supplements, along with good audio/video quality.

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