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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Luke Greenfield
Cast:
Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano, Timothy Bottoms, Donna Bullock
Writing Credits:
Stuart Blumberg, David Wagner, Brent Goldberg

Tagline:
Matt never saw her coming ... but all his friends had!

Synopsis:
Get ready for more skin ... more sex ... and more laughs in this all-new unrated version of The Girl Next Door - packed with steamy added scenes. Eighteen-year-old Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a straight-laced overachiever who has never really lived life - until he falls for his hot new neighbor (Elisha Cuthbert). When Matthew discovers his perfect girl next door is a former porn star, his sheltered existence spins out of control. It's "Risky Business meets American Pie" (Premiere Radio Networks) in this "titillating, laugh-out-loud funny comedy!" (US Weekly)

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$6.003 million on 2148 screens.
Domestic Gross
$14.589 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 8/24/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Luke Greenfield
• Trivia Track
• Scene-Specific Commentaries by Actors Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert
• “The Eli Experience”
• “A Look Next Door” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Still Gallery
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Girl Next Door: Unrated (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 26, 2004)

While 1999’s American Pie revived the teen sex comedy as a viable genre, 2004’s The Girl Next Door looks back a little farther for its inspirations, as it seems inspired by 1983’s Risky Business. The film introduces us to high school senior Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch), the student council president who wins the Brightest Leader of Tomorrow award and gets into Georgetown University. We learn that Matthew needs to make an important speech to win a scholarship, for he cannot afford Georgetown without monetary aid.

Despite all of his achievements, he feels like he’s missing out on the fun, as he sees others with girlfriends and a livelier lifestyle. He contemplates indulging in naughtiness but his conscience gets the best of him. Soon Matthew’s life changes when he sees sexy new neighbor Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert). One night he watches her strip and she spies him doing so. She comes over to the house and talks to his parents but doesn’t bust him. Instead, they go driving, an event that ends when Danielle makes Matthew strip in the street and she abandons him.

Even with that minor bit of sadism, the pair hit it off, and Danielle helps loosen up Matthew. This also applies to his nerdy friend Klitz (Paul Dano) and his porn-obsessed buddy Eli (Chris Marquette), both of whom come along when Danielle drags the guys to a wild party. Matthew almost loses Danielle to school stud Hunter (Jacob Young), but he finally grows some nads and kisses her.

All seems well in Matthew’s world until Eli drops a bombshell: Danielle used to work as a porn actress. He reacts badly to this and alienates her. When he goes to apologize, he finds her with her former film producer Kelly (Timothy Oliphant). He convinces Danielle to return to the porn life and trots her to a convention in Las Vegas. Not content to give up on his love, he rousts his pals to head with him to Sin City to win her back. The rest of the movie follows Matthew’s attempts to woo Danielle, get her out of porn, and make sure he can attend Georgetown.

All of those threads entail lots of complications. Girl doesn’t have a plot - it has plot twists. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but think of the episode of The Simpsons in which Lionel Hutz plans to win a case with an endless series of surprise witnesses, “each one more surprising than the last!”

That’s how Girl works. Sometimes it seems like a movie written by hyper 10-year-olds: “So he walks down the street, and he meets a… gorilla! And then a tornado comes! And then he finds a billion dollars!” Granted, I don’t know how grounded in reality a movie about a porn star neighbor can be, but it sure could come closer than this absurd story. One or two twists? Fine, I can deal with that. The mass of complications on display here? It becomes ridiculous well before the final credits run.

As I mentioned earlier, Girl gives off a serious Risky Business vibe. In addition, director Luke Greenfield exudes all his other influences. Toss in some Graduate as well along with the American Pie flicks. Greenfield even steals from GoodFellas for the music; he uses a few tunes that folks - well, me at least - strongly associate with the Scorsese movie. It seems weird to hear Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” without watching Henry Hill worry about helicopters.

I also think that Girl lacks a smooth and consistent flow, largely because the tone changes rapidly and without much logic. One minute we’ll get scenes of very broad comedy, while seconds later we’ll discover mushy sentiment. The various attitudes don’t blend neatly, and they create awkward moments.

I will admit that The Girl Next Door offers occasional laughs, and it gives us a moderately entertaining program in general. It fares best in its earlier moments, mainly because it becomes tedious as it progresses. Ultimately it offers little more than a minor twist on the standard coming of age comedy.

Note that this version of The Girl Next Door presents an unrated cut of the flick. It runs an extra nine minutes. Since I didn’t see the theatrical edition, I can’t detail the differences, but don’t expect lots of steamy footage. The movie lacks much nudity and doesn’t offer anything exceptional in that regard.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Girl Next Door appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A few problems popped up, but the transfer usually seemed solid.

Sharpness varied somewhat. Softness never turned into a major issue, as most of the movie came across as concise and detailed. However, I thought a few shots were less well defined than I expected. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed some light edge enhancement. No forms of print defects showed up during the movie.

Colors tended toward the bright end of a natural palette. The tones occasionally looked a little dense, but they usually appeared reasonably vivid and distinctive. Blacks were acceptably deep and dense, but shadow detail tended to be somewhat heavy. Low-light shots occasionally came across as a bit thick, though they weren’t terribly opaque. Enough positive occurred to bolster the image to a “B”, but it earned an inconsistent “B”.

One can’t expect much from the audio of a comedy, and The Girl Next Door followed suit with a predictably adequate soundtrack. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix presented a soundfield that maintained a heavy bias toward the front speakers. Those channels showed positive stereo imaging for the score and songs as well as a nice sense of ambience. However, it rarely went beyond that, as the track stayed with general atmosphere most of the time. The surrounds added little, though the music expanded into them more actively than usual. Otherwise they largely just bolstered the information from the front.

Audio quality was fine. Speech remained consistently intelligible and natural, and I noticed no issues with edginess. Effects played a small role but came across as accurate and firm, with no distortion or other issues. Music was the most positive aspect of the mix. The songs and score were always bright and lively, and they showed nice low-end response. Nothing much about the audio stood out, but it seemed more than adequate for this sort of movie.

We get a mix of extras from The Girl Next Door. On side one of the disc, we launch with an audio commentary from director Luke Greenfield, who offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Greenfield proves to be very chatty, as he yaks almost non-stop during this piece. Unfortunately, not a ton of great information pops up in it. Much of the time Greenfield just tells us how great everyone was and how much he likes various sequences. This happy talk gets old fast.

Frustrations stem from the positive parts of the track, as Greenfield occasionally becomes insightful. He lets us know about the writing process, with an emphasis on the way he envisions music use in the flick. We also learn a mix of casting and production details as well as changes made for the uncut version. Some good information appears, but the prevalence of Greenfield’s praise makes this an erratic commentary.

Side One also includes a trivia track. Entitled “Revealing the Girl Next Door”, it presents tidbits related to the movie. Sometimes these reflect parts of the film itself such as behind the scenes information or biographical notes about the participants, but much of the time we learn about issues connected to the flick. For example, we get facts about the porno business and hear the etymology of various words. This track seems reasonably informative and fun; it’s not one of the best subtitle commentaries I’ve seen, but it provides a fair amount of useful notes.

When we head to side two, we open with scene-specific commentary. Actor Emile Hirsch chats over four scenes for a total of eight minutes, 40 seconds, while actor Elisha Cuthbert talks over five segments for 12 minutes, 45 seconds. Hirsch meanders through his conversation as he presents mostly generic remarks about the shoot and the story. Cuthbert offers stronger information, as she discusses her attitude toward nudity, her approach to the character, and various elements of the shoot. Cuthbert’s track merits a listen, but you can skip Hirsch’s bland chat.

In The Eli Experience, we take seven minutes and 55 seconds to watch actor Chris Marquette go to a real adult film convention in character. Along with some others, the play pranks on the attendees in this silly and not terribly amusing program.

For a more standard featurette, A Look Next Door goes for nine minutes and 50 seconds. It uses the usual mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes shots, and interviews. We hear from Greenfield, Hirsch, Cuthbert, screenwriter Stuart Blumberg, Marquette, producers Charles Gordon and Marc Sternberg, executive producer Guy Riedel, production designer Stephen Lineweaver, and actors Timothy Olyphant, James Remar and Paul Dano. They go through casting and characters, the director, various story points, and sets and locations. It’s a bland and generic program that does little more than puff up the flick.

The Gag Reel goes for two minutes, 45 seconds, as it presents the usual array of errors and giggles. 16 Deleted and Extended Scenes appear, with a total running time of 10 minutes, 55 seconds. As one might expect due to their brevity, little of consequence appears here. None of the additions seem memorable or useful, even with an alternate ending. We can watch the clips with or without commentary from Greenfield. He gives us basic production notes and explains why he cut the sequences. The one-word answer for most? “Timing”.

To finish off the set, we get a collection of 39 pictures in the Still Gallery. We see a few behind the scenes shots, but most of them offer images from the film. The Trailers domain presents ads for Girl plus Club Dread, There’s Something About Mary and a general DVD promo reel.

The Girl Next Door doesn’t offer a story. It presents a series of complications poured on complications piled on complications added onto complications. This never-ending stream occasionally provides some amusing bits, but the flick wears out its welcome before long. The DVD presents good but not great picture and audio plus a broad and sporadically interesting set of extras. An inconsistent flick, Girl doesn’t provide a very positive expansion of its genre and it only musters moderate entertainment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6396 Stars Number of Votes: 111
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5 3:
42:
21:
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