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The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door on DVD

By Johnny Bray

Let’s talk a little bit about The Girl Next Door, shall we?

When released in theatres, it was dubbed a sexy, naughty comedy about a former porn star who moves next door to a high school loser. Based on the clips, it seemed obvious that the highlight of the movie was to see Elisha Cuthbert naked (or at least, topless).

Now, with the DVD, we get the Unrated version of the film. According to the box, it features “more skin…more sex…packed with raunchy added scenes.” Either side of the box features Cuthbert wearing very little. There’s even a disclaimer warning about adult content and nudity.

Naturally, like any heterosexual male, I was looking forward to watching the movie more for the inevitable than the movie itself, which I figured would be okay at best.

Let me tell you a little something about The Girl Next Door. At 109 minutes, it spends its entire duration teasing you, making you want to see Cuthbert’s assets more and more, but by the end you’ve seen absolutely nothing. Everyone to whom I’ve talked (men and women alike) were more than a little disappointed by the end result.

It may seem somewhat shallow to judge a movie based on the lack of a single actress's nudity, but when you’re given the impression (numerous times) that you’ll be seeing plenty of it, you start to wonder about certain things.

For example, the movie is not nearly as raunchy as it would have you believe. Trying to market itself as another American Pie, Girl Next Door has very few laughs and none of the surprise shocking moments of Pie. In fact, the whole thing seems to be nothing more than a formulaic romantic comedy with a few shots of nudity thrown in to keep the guys interested.

What’s that? Nudity, I say?

Well, sort of. There are a couple of brief shots of porn stars with their shirts off, and they’re not so bad looking, but I figure they threw them in merely to justify all the warnings on the box. They’re no Elisha Cuthbert, that’s for sure.

Other than the major misleadings, the movie is still a pretty big mess. It’s filled with clichéd characters and plot points, and never seems quite sure what it’s trying to do. You even have to suspend your disbelief in a few places (and they’re not very subtle).

The main characters are likeable enough, but they don’t have the ability to hold up the movie on their own. Director Luke Greenfield, who directed The Animal, does an excellent job of stringing us along without ever delivering the goods. There’s not a single second in the movie that I felt would not have been suitable for theaters, so the whole “Unrated” thing seems like nothing more than a gimmick.

The good thing about movie critics is that we watch a lot of these movies so that you don’t have to. Now that you know the truth about The Girl Next Door, you should find sufficient cinematic experiences elsewhere. There’s nothing here you can’t get from hundreds of other, better, movies, and many of them even feature the beautiful main character topless. The Girl Next Door is only for those who wish to satisfy their curiosity.

The DVD comes in separate full screen and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen versions. The wide version features crystal clear picture, with excellent detail and fleshtones. Colors are rich, and there are plenty of dimly lit scenes in which you can still easily make out what’s going on.

Audio, in the usual Dolby Digital 5.1, is better than expected. Separation is good, with the front channels handling most of the dialogue, and the rear speakers belting out sound effects at every turn. The dance/party scenes are the best, with the musical beats and noises of the crowd filling the room very effectively. During one or two of the quieter scenes, however, I did notice a bit of tinniness.

There are 16 “uncensored” deleted and extended scenes on the disc, and before you get your hopes up, you should know that they’re not as “uncensored” as they would have you believe. Most are extremely short and didn’t really need to be in the movie, so we can see why they were cut.

There’s also an “unrated” gag reel that makes us wish they’d stop calling all this stuff unrated or uncensored. Give it a rest already.

“A Look Next Door” is a typical behind-the-scenes featurette that features cast and crew interviews, and gives them a chance to backslap each other and talk about the movie without actually saying anything of interest. “The Eli XXXperience” is another featurette that follows actor Chris Marquette in character, going around and harassing complete strangers and getting them to do humiliating things on camera. Okay, so maybe it’s not all bad. There’s also a “sizzling” (sigh) photo gallery, and a series of trailers.

The Girl Next Door, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
109 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano
Produced by Charles Gordon, Harry Gittes, Marc Sternberg
Screenplay by Stuart Blumberg and David T. Wagner & Brent Goldberg, Directed by Luke Greenfield


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