Bad Movies We Love: The Girl Next Door (2004)
Otherwise known as Your Honors Student Will Sacrifice His Livelihood For Porn. Holler, 2004! The Girl Next Door is one of the last horndog comedies to eschew parody and go for realism -- but barely. It lives in a post-Shannon Elizabeth universe where the untouchable hottie (Elisha Cuthbert) has to be a porn star because all other options are exhausted/boring. How stupid! I'm game! And so is Timothy Olyphant, the I Am Number Four/Justified star, who plays a sleazy porn producer here. We hope to answer the following questions with today's Bad Movie We Love: 1) Why do we like this scummy flick for oily masturbators? 2) Why is Emile Hirsch such an unconvincing loser? And 3) Most importantly: Why does Mr. Olyphant act like he's still in Scream 2?
Our haw'ny hero is high-school senior Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch), who's been accepted to Georgetown. He's the hardworking, uncool type who stands at pep assembly and announces that Hornballs High is getting a new vending machine because the Scholastic Bowl team's car wash kicked ass. (Except he's the only member of Scholastic Bowl, and he washed all those Volvos himself. With a smile.) That sort of guy. We're supposed to believe Matthew's a dowdy loser, but I can spot his Efronian jawbone and Westwickian eyes a mile away. He is a hot face hiding in Jason Bateman's haircut and casual wear. You're not so clever, bad movie.
A new neighbor moves in next door to Matthew, and it's a blonde bombshell who takes fashion and styling cues from Step by Step's Staci Keanan (the Dana-Burger). Suede jacket and rage-red halter top? Present! Patrick Duffy would ground her and not let her go to Cody's karate show.
Matthew glimpses the new girl undressing from his bedroom window, like the naughtiest Taylor Swift video ever. She turns around and spots him staring, so she throws on her clothes and darts over to his house. Matthew's terrified, but it turns out the vixen just wants to introduce herself as Hottie Danielle and take him for a drive. Of course.
Danielle doesn't talk on the ride except to say he should strip on the street. Really. He saw her naked after all, and it's only fair. Matthew obliges and lets loose for once in his life, which is a recurring theme in The Girl Next Door. Losers: They need attractive helpers!
So begins their courtship. Complicating matters are Matthew's two HoRnY friends Eli and -- ahem -- Klitz (Chris Marquette and the august Paul Dano). Because Eli spends his days ejaculating into tube socks, he recognizes Danielle from a porn video about nurses and noises. Matthew is enraged and sets out to confront the XXX ingenue, but Eli wisely tells him to invite her to a cheap motel for frustrated teen sex. Eli then coins the immortal line, "I swear if you don't f*ck her, I will kill myself."
When Matthew makes the proposition to Danielle, she realizes he saw her videos and feels used. Like all of us really, at this moment. Even you, reading along. Matthew and Danielle survive this argument and remain scandalous buddies who swim in neighborhood pools, make out to the music of David Gray, and smile too hard. Lucky us.
Matthew also imagines Danielle having sex with his parents for some reason. It looked like this.
Disturbia! Then, The Girl Next Door turns a serious corner and decides to be super-about porn. Witness: Danielle's old producer Kelly Simon (Timothy Olyphant) wants to recruit her for sex-related sex videos again. Danger. Matthew accompanies Kelly and Danielle on a trip to a strip joint to prove he understands their art. Remember, he has friends who masturbate 14 hours a day.
Problem is, Kelly Simon seems a lot like that murderer from Scream 2. He'll soon threaten Matthew for dissuading Danielle from the porn industry and ruining his career.
"Always know if the juice is worth the squeeze. You know what that means?" he asks. "You don't steal my girl without knowing the consequences."
More like you don't mess with people in brown leather jackets and patterned shirts, Matthew. They make up phrases and use them to preface your homicide.
Kelly's persuasive: He coerces Danielle to appear as a model at the Adult Video Convention in Vegas, where dildos and stilettos soar through the air like the Flying Wallendas. Matthew drives there with his goons and sees Danielle in all her porny glory. Why is he not disappointed that she looks like one of Veronica Mars's lame-ass disguises? Or some backup hoofer from Burlesque? Or some other questionable Kristen Bell role? He was probably caught up in the believable 2004 porn convention music. (You guessed it: Methods of Mayhem's "Get Naked.")
Let us summarize the remaining sequence of plot twists: Matthew professes his love for Danielle. She attends a big banquet with him back at Hornballs High where he loses a scholarship to another suck-up. Together Danielle and Matthew must figure out a way to pay his way into Georgetown. With the help of Eli, Klitz, jocks at prom, and porn stars from the convention, they film a "safe sex" demonstration video in the AV room that a producer named "Hugo Posh" says he'll pay a bundle for. Nerdy Paul Dano volunteers to star in the video and get his milkshake drank up. Ew. But funny joke, me.
Kelly threatens to steal the video and ruin Matthew's education forever, but he's coaxed into a business partnership. It's all very pat. Very conventional. It's all very sleazy and boobs-laden. It's all... a bunch of sexy people dabbling in the erotic underworld and passing it off like American Pie 7: Everybody Disrobe and Eugene Levy's Not Even Invited. Uh, guys: I approve!
Well, for the most part. I hate the homophobia that creeps up throughout the movie (During one awful junction, Olyphant's character tells Matthew he can have Danielle if he just gives him a blowjob -- just before yelling "Psych!" essentially), and I hate the silly scenes where Matthew acts like a drugged-out idiot in front of his brainy classmates. But this movie is somehow more ghetto than Eurotrip, trashier than Road Trip, and full of more likable leads than the original American Pie. It is indulgent and seedy. And pretty. And unabashed in a teen-film way that needed to go out of style, and did. What a refreshingly nasty way to go out.