I always hesitate writing about this film, because I don’t want to come off as a pervert. But there’s a lot more heart in this film than there is sex/perversion and stupid humor. And that’s why it deserves to be included in my Underrated Films blog/category.
The Girl Next Door is about an overachieving geek named Matt (Emile Hirsch), who is about to graduate high school, and who also just got into Georgetown University. He’s still figuring out how to get a scholarship, so he can actually attend the school. He envies all the popular kids in his class (the jocks, their cheerleader/prep girlfriends, etc) because they actually are enjoying their lives, when he isn’t really at all.
Matt’s two best friends, Eli and Klitz (ha!) are completely unlike him… well, at least Eli is. Klitz (the always-amazing Paul Dano) just got into Yale, and he’s the nerdiest of the three… the “quiet guy.” Eli (Chris Marquette) on the other hand, is obnoxious, cocky, and obsessed with porn. So much so that Eli is actively watching porn, while he calls Matt, even just to say “hi, what’s up?”.
Miraculously, out of nowhere, a gorgeous girl named Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves into the house next door to Matt, as her aunt is away for the late spring/summer. Matt initially spies on her changing, and she catches him in the act, but she’s completely cool and fun about it. They hang out, and Matt immediately falls in love with her, and who the hell wouldn’t? It’s Elisha Cuthbert, for Christ’s sake… I can’t think of a single human being, straight/gay/queer who doesn’t find her utterly fantastic.
So, things seem to be going well with Danielle and Matt, as they hang out pretty frequently and just vibe. It is there between them, and the connection is undeniable.
Then, Eli discovers (quite by accident) that Danielle is an emerging porn star. She’s been in a few films, and just as she was gaining popularity, she quit the business as she realized it wasn’t the direction she wanted her life to go in.
Matt tries to have sex with her, thinking it’s a guarantee, but Danielle’s onto him immediately. Things explode in the worst way. Danielle thought Matt actually liked her for her (which he did), but now, discovering her past, he’s acting like a typical male douchebag, which disappoints Danielle greatly.
I won’t give any spoilers beyond this… (this covers the first 25 minutes of the film)…
What is to happen with Danielle and Matt? Will things get worse or better? Will he get his Georgetown scholarship or will he fail at everything? Watch the film to find out.
Not only does the film have a lot of heart… the humor is well-timed, well-written, and the acting is superb between all actors. Timothy Olyphant and James Remar steal the show, as two douchey porn director/producers.
Oh, and also! The soundtrack fucking rules! Echo and the Bunnymen, Satchel, Filter (“Take A Picture” is still the best song ever)… David Gray, Elliott Smith, Queen/David Bowie, MARVIN GAYE, Red House Painters, The Verve, Mogwai, Josh Rouse, Binocular (the end credits song “Maybe You’re Gone” written by Danny Scherr, is FANTASTIC)…. and even the legendary hardcore band Youth Of Today’s “Break Down The Walls” is heard, briefly! Also some great hip-hop/rap songs, too (N.E.R.D., Groove Armada), etc.
Written by David T. Wagner and Brent Goldfield, and directed by Luke Greenfield. Extremely underrated film…. don’t be turned off by the porn star storyline. It’s way more than that, and it deserves to be in any classic teen/high school movie list. Right up there with The Breakfast Club, Can’t Buy Me Love, Some Kind Of Wonderful, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Better Off Dead, Charlie Bartlett, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Risky Business (it’s WAY better than Risky Business, even though people have compared the two films). Definitely worth at least one viewing. As of 2018, I’ve seen it like 150 times.