Starring: Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant
Director: Luke Greenfield
Running Time: 108 mins
The Girl Next Door is an American film about a nerdy high school senior who falls in love with a young woman who moves into the house next door, only to discover that she’s an adult film star.
Unfortunately, this is one of those films that just isn’t written well enough. Although its premise suggests a good few laughs, The Girl Next Door is a surprisingly muddled affair, often venturing way too far onto the dramatic side, and never providing the entertainment it should. Although there are a few good moments and performances, this just isn’t a great film.
But there are some positives to draw from The Girl Next Door, the biggest of which being the performances. Although a little abrupt at first, Emile HIrsch portrays his character’s coming-of-age fantastically, and makes for a surprisingly likable protagonist, a rarity amongst teen comedies. Although a lot of his co-stars aren’t outstanding, there is a brilliant performance from Timothy Olyphant, whose bizarre rapport with Emile Hirsch makes for a lot of the film’s best moments.
At the beginning, the two are surprisingly close, but the real laughs come from Olyphant’s insanely aggressive turn against the teenager. For a brief ten-minute period, the comedy and drama is all perfectly balanced simply because of the duo’s conflict. It’s ridiculous and comical, but also important and interesting within the context of the story.
As I said earlier, the drama and the comedy aren’t all that well-balanced. There are two exceptions to that, however. Firstly, the part mentioned above, and secondly, a very brief (almost montage-length) period where Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert’s characters’ relationship becomes serious. Although not funny, the way that the two become so unlikely close is surprisingly tender and heartfelt, by far the best-written part of the movie, and possibly evidence that the film could have worked as a more serious story.
However, on the whole, this is a pretty mediocre movie. Yes, it has its moments, but it’s generally bland and uninteresting. The gimmick of a teenager dating an adult film star wears thin quickly, and the majority of the comedy is too crass, and not really deserving of a big laugh.
At times, the raunchiness of the humour reminded me of Zack And Miri Make A Porno, but there’s a fundamental difference why this doesn’t work, and Zack And Miri does. In that movie, the humour is so intensely crass, and insanely over-the-top as well, that you become normalised and can actually appreciate the good writing of the comedy.
This, however, uses raunchy humour as a break from the rest of the movie, A symptom from its poorly balanced atmosphere and terrible pacing, there are random interjections of that type of comedy to try and coax some life back into the film, but it just doesn’t work, and represents the general problem with the film: its poor script.
Overall, whilst there were some good moments to be had in The Girl Next Door, it’s a generally disappointing and uninteresting affair. Despite a few good performances and brief periods, the film’s hugely mediocre script causes all sorts of problems, ultimately impacting hugely on the possibility for enjoyment and/or dramatic intrigue, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.5.