My senior year in high school was just the same as my junior year: stranger in a strange land. When looking back at the time that was spent, I spent more time with my nose in books and running from jocks. The reason why the jocks were upset at me more often than not? I was looking at their girls. In an attempt to find myself, I would pretend to be solving a Calculus problem (which eventually explained why I had to retake it in college) and instead fantasize about what it would be like to be with Miss Popular. I would eventually stop caring, the bruises would heal but I often thought what would have happened? Perhaps in a fantasy land, something like the film The Girl Next Door would have happened. Nah, probably not.
Matthew Kidman (played by Emile Hirsch) is everything a successful high school senior should be. He’s the class president, he’s been accepted to Georgetown, and he is eligible for a prestigious scholarship. But he wants to be like the popular guys and be able to hang out at the beach, skipping school and have a hot girl to be by his side. One day, he meets the girl of his dreams. Her name is Danielle (played by Elisha Cuthbert) and she is house sitting next door.
One night, Matthew is talking to his friend Eli (played by Chris Marquette) by telephone when he catches Danielle taking off her clothes in bedroom window across the way. Danielle sees him staring (he’s only human) and decides to take him on a little ride and corners him into a similar fate. The two develop a budding romance much to the awe of Matthew and pretty much everybody around him.
However, things are not as they seem. Danielle has a past. At eighteen, she ran away to do adult films as the temptress, Athena. This is confirmed when Eli shows Matthew a porn tape with Danielle in a starring role. Matthew soon confronts Danielle and makes a few mistakes to cause them to split apart. But Danielle’s past is catching up to her in other ways. Her producer and former lover, Kelly (played by Timothy Olyphant) is back in town and he wants Danielle to come back with him to make more movies.
Danielle with her mind fresh off the breakup and loyalty to the business decides to go back to Vegas. Meanwhile, Matthew knows he made some mistakes but very much wants her back. He decides to go to Vegas and enlists the help of his friends, Eli and Klitz (played by Paul Dano). But can he not only win back his dream girl but also get back in time to give a rousing speech on why he should get the scholarship to his college of choice?
The Girl Next Door is certainly what the cover leads you to believe. The film is a sexy comedy with some genuinely funny moments and a good helping of scantily clad women in and out of clothing. But there is something else in this movie that is not expected. Underneath some of the Vegas convention, skin and glitter is an actual romance. There is charm and a nice helping of tender moments that are certain to make you smile. The film is even decently acted and has a cast of actors that really shine in their parts. This is especially true when it comes to the roles of Eli and Kelly played by Chris Marquette and Timothy Olyphant respectively.
But the Girl Next Door suffers from one major factor, and that is what I like to call the BS meter. In this film, the BS is off the charts. We are actually supposed to believe that a smoking hot girl like Danielle is going to end up with him simply because of the way he looks at her? He’s kinda dorky, still in high school, has little social skills and looks like he’s a freshman and you like the way he looks at you. Yeah, I’m calling BS. Furthermore, Matthew has the greatest luck known to man. Everything he does turns to gold, and the ending is 100% predictable for the most part. Especially when it involves Danielle. I like the happy ending but it would have been nice if his missteps were a little more noticeable along the way.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I’ve seen a lot of Blu-ray films now and to be honest this is probably the weakest I’ve seen in a film in this time period. It doesn’t look bad mind you (how could anything with Elisha Cuthbert actually look bad?), it just looks average and by the book. There is a decent amount of grain but the color is alright by most standards. A good re-mastering would have done this film a lot of good.
The audio is about in the same class as the video. This film features an English 5.1 Master DTS-HD track as well as 5.1 tracks for Spanish and French listeners. There aren’t many effects to speak of and surround is kept to the middle. The good thing about this track is that it most certainly clear and none of the dialog seems far away or soft. Music also comes in very well and doesn’t distract from the movie itself. Subtitles are provided for English SDH and Spanish.
- Commentary by Director Luke Greenfield: The first extra is a full length commentary by the director Luke Greenfield. He states that the commentary is actually being done for the second time since he said things that he was not able to legally say. Oh do tell! He doesn’t unfortunately, and he sounds rather rehearsed as well which is only expected. He does keep it going for the entire movie and sounds very enthused about his final product even if he comes across as a little whiny. Pretty decent commentary.
- Scene Specific Commentary by Emile Hirsch 8:41: Apparently Emile hasn’t done a commentary before because he pretty watches his scenes in near silence. He only offers a few pieces of interesting commentary and you pretty much twiddle your thumbs for about nine minutes.
- Scene Specific Commentary by Elisha Cuthbert 12:47: Elisha is a lot more talkie about her selected scenes. She apparently took quite the stand about nudity in her scenes which lead to a more is really less philosophy? Okay that aside, there are a lot of good comments here and it would have been nice if they just included her with Luke in a full length commentary.
- The Eli Experience 7:57: A good excuse for Chris Marquette to go to the real AVN Awards and have some fun at the expense of the participants. Some good stuff with Matt Wiese who plays Mule in the movie. Matt Wiese is also of WCW and WWE wrestling fame, being known as Luther Reigns.
- A Look Next Door 9:59: The classic making of featurette, but has nothing noteworthy to make it stand out.
- Gag Reel 2:47: About the most un-entertaining gag reel I have ever seen except for the few extra moments of Chris Marquette and his Eli character that were pure gold.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes 10:58: Nothing much of note here except for the Original Ending which I can draw comparisons to almost a Richie-Rich feel. Thank goodness they stuck to the ending in the film.
- The Girl Next Door Trailer “Dirrrty” 2:24: I’ve been very dirrrrrrrty, oh yes I have. Wait…I’m sorry, this is just the trailer to the movie. One last morsel of Elisha love as we close out this disc.
If I’m mentioning the packaging, it can only mean one thing and it isn’t a life size cut-out of Elisha Cuthbert. Eco packaging. Fox gives this the crummy and flimsy Eco Box Treatment. If you have 30% less packaging but yet 30% of the people replace these cases with a normal one, does that really help the environment? Answer: No, it doesn’t.
Most people will get this film for Elisha Cuthbert. It’s a fact, she is simply stunning and does her best to play an adult film star who wants to be normal again. However, despite the film’s BS factor reaching “off the charts”, there is a heart underneath the movie. There is a charm that will lead to many tender moments and a satisfied yet clichéd ending. The cast is very well represented, especially by its supporting roles. The disc includes a full commentary and an assortment of featurettes to give those who liked the comedy a healthy dose of knowledge on production. Video and audio are unfortunately average and that unfortunately is the overall feel of this whole production. If you have the unrated dvd, it is best to stick with it (unless you can snag the blu on the cheap). The rest should view this one as a rental recommendation.