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Movie Review

Rather than dissect the graphic sexual content and moral depravity of The Girl Next Door in our usual fashion, I'll describe the film's content in the context of what might have been the producer's initial pitch meeting with a cigar-chomping studio executive. I repeat, no matter how plausible the following dialogue may sound, any similarities to real-life conversations held by actual Hollywood big-shots are purely coincidental:

Listen, J.B., I've got a sure-fire teen hit for you. [Handing him the script] Basically, we use the plot of Risky Business, change the details just enough so we don't get sued, and make it way raunchier.

You've got me curious. Keep talking.

Okay. ... Remember how Tom Cruise's character in that movie was this straight-arrow kid named Joel set on going to Princeton who gets loosened up and taken for a ride by a good-hearted hooker? Well, in The Girl Next Door, we have a straight-arrow kid named Matthew set on going to Georgetown who gets loosened up and taken for a ride by a good-hearted porn star! Just like in Risky Business, we've got the nerdy pals who come along for a cheap, vicarious thrill, provide some comic relief and live out every dweeby teen's fantasy. One of Matt's pals—the kid who plays Adam on Joan of Arcadia—is so deep into porn that he recognizes this neighbor girl, Danielle, from one of his videos. He tips Matt off about her true identity. But by now the "A+ student" is totally hooked on this wild blond. By the way, we landed that Cuthbert girl from the TV show 24 to play the porn star.

Those actors ought to interest teenagers. Who's in the Tom Cruise role?

We cast Emil Hirsch as Matthew. He's a talented kid. You may remember him as the rebellious prep-schooler in The Emperor's Club.

Oh yeah. Okay, I'm with you so far: Virtuous guy gets led into temptation by a bad girl in need of redemption. Lots of sexual stuff. But what about conflict? Every story needs conflict.

The porn star likes Matt because she feels respected—kinda the way Rebecca DeMornay's prostitute felt in Risky Business—and the good kid tries to convince the girl that she's meant for better things. So while she's busy corrupting him, he persuades her to rethink her career in adult films, leaving some seedy thugs angry that their meal ticket has been taken away.

So what you're telling me is, the same way Tom Cruise had to deal with Guido the pimp stealing his mother's crystal egg to recoup his losses, you're gonna have a vicious porn guy go after Mark. Am I right?

It's Matt. But yeah, same idea. A whacked-out porn producer beats him up and steals $25,000 from a school account the kid is responsible for. Then Matt and his friends have only a few days to earn enough money to replace it. So Danielle calls her professional friends to help …

Woah! This sounds entirely too much like Risky Business. I suppose at the end, Matt and Danielle have sex on a train.

Uh, we chose a limo.

I'm gonna get sued.

Relax! That movie is more than 20 years old. I doubt anybody will even remember it. Anyway, to recoup the money, Matthew, his buddies and the adult film stars shoot a porno flick in the school library while the senior prom goes on down the hall. There'll be nude women, condom jokes ...

Sounds to me like you're awfully close to porn yourself. Can you get away with all that in an R-rated movie?

Is Tom Cruise rich?! C'mon, J.B., you can show practically anything these days. We're gonna show clips of people in skin flicks. Orgasmic groaning. A daydream about oral sex. Lesbian kissing. Homosexual humor. A bunch of visual gags involving all sorts of twisted erotica. Oh, and there's this scene in a strip club that'll have 'em rolling in the aisles. After we let the camera linger on shots of topless pole dancers, Matt and one of his dad's friends have a mature conversation while women in G-strings give them lap dances. And later, when we send Matt on a mission to save Danielle from her "lewd" career path, we don't just have them discuss it politely over a latte. He follows her to a porn convention in the city of sin itself, Las Vegas! Everywhere you look there'll be half-naked women in the sleazy underbelly of the business. Of course, to Matt's nerdy pals, this is like Disneyland.

It looks like you have the sexual content pretty well covered …

Oh, there's a lot more I haven't even told you about.

Uh, yeah. I'll take your word for it. But what about an overall spirit of rebellion and moral relativism. You realize, don't you, that sex isn't the only thing that makes teen exploitation movies work.

Got it covered. In the beginning of the story, Matt is moral and miserable. He only starts to enjoy life when Danielle encourages him to do wild, irresponsible things. He cuts class. She strands him in public without any clothes. They both strip down and take a forbidden dip in a stranger's swimming pool. And if you thought the old "happy drunk" cliché was funny, wait till you see Matt trying to deliver the most important speech of his life while tripping on Ecstasy. (He thinks he took aspirin.) Once his inhibitions are gone, he goes from being dull and polite to being the life of the party.

Good. Any memorable catchphrases young viewers can take with them?

Glad you asked. Remember when Tom Cruise learned to say, "Sometimes you've got to say, What the [expletive]"? Well, our kid's catchphrase is, "As for me, I'm just goin' with it." And man, does he go with it!

You belittle moral standards and tell kids to do what feels good. I love it. Will that message be lost on anyone?

Impossible. Matt preaches it in his speech and we repeat it several times. We even give a character the line, "Sometimes in life, if you want to do something good, you've got to do something bad." Pretty good, huh? Trust me. You've been asking for a film that's like a hall pass for teen rebellion and this is it.

Lots of alcohol and raw language?

A keg party, champagne and hard liquor. Plus, the script I handed you contains more than a hundred profanities, crass slang for human anatomy, and obscenities—including close to 50 f-words and about a dozen blasphemous uses of Jesus' name. We spared no expense.

What about authority figures?

They're either mocked as uptight losers or they come around to see things the kids' way. There's even a daydream where a school security cop goes headfirst through the windshield of his car in a really violent crash. I can't wait to see audience reaction to that one! And get this: The big finale involves Matt's sexually explicit prom tape—an obscene parody of those prudish old sex ed videos—being shown to his parents and school principal by someone determined to bring him down. You think Matt's in big trouble, right? Wrong. They all decide it has cultural value! The principal says, "The kids today are so g--d--n screwed up this may be the only way to reach them." With porn! Isn't that hilarious? Then the video goes on to sell millions of copies and becomes standard sex ed curriculum in high schools coast to coast. Matt ends up at Georgetown driving a BMW. Everybody wins.

_My good man, your movie sounds like a contemptible piece of lascivious garbage lacking even a shred of decency or social conscience. It crusades against chastity, glamorizes drug and alcohol use, and will come a hair's breadth from being labeled pornography itself. Furthermore, it sounds like you're exploiting the very objectification of women you pretend to be condemning. It's a shameless rip-off for a generation desensitized by MTV, pay cable and online porn.

So, when do we start shooting?_

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Emile Hirsch as Matthew Kidman; Elisha Cuthbert as Danielle; Timothy Olyphant as Kelly; Chris Marquette as Eli; Paul Dano as Klitz; James Remar as Hugo Posh


Luke Greenfield ( )


20th Century Fox



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Bob Smithouser

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