Written by Pirata Hermosa
What’s a nerdy high school senior who is class president, yearbook editor, and trying to win a scholarship based on moral fiber supposed to do when a beautiful blonde moves in next door? He spies on her as she undresses, gets busted, and ends up having his entire life turned upside down.
And that’s exactly what happens to Matthew (Emile Hirsch). But you can’t blame him; she really is hot. Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) immediately takes a liking to him and instead of ratting him out to his parents for being a peeping tom, she decides to get a little revenge on him by taking him for a ride, forcing him to strip in the street, and then making him walk home.
The two are immediately attracted to one another as she pushes him to his limits and gets him to do things he normally wouldn’t, like skinny-dipping in the principal’s pool. She also takes him and his friends Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul Dano) to crash a party, which helps to increase Matthew’s popularity.
But everything falls apart when Eli, and his ever pornographic mind, finds a videotape and shows it to Matthew. It seems Danielle also goes by the name Athena and is an up-and-coming porn star. Not knowing what to do, Matthew takes Eli’s poor advice and ends up embarrassing himself and Danielle in a sleazy motel room.
Danielle had moved there to get away from her former job, but after the argument with Matthew, she ends up calling her old producer Kelly (Timothy Olyphant) and leaves with him for a porn convention in Las Vegas.
Realizing how stupid he was, Matthew convinces his two friends to drive to Vegas to stop her. But not only does he have to try and regain Danielle’s trust, but he has to circumnavigate Kelly, who refuses to let his biggest moneymaker leave the profession.
The special features on the Blu-ray are basically the same as the DVD, although the DVD has a photo gallery and a trivia feature that the Blu-ray does not. They are:
Full-Length Audio Commentary by director Luke Greenfield
Scene Specific Commentary by Emile Hirsch and one by Elisha Cuthbert – I found Elisha’s particularly funny just because she talks about standing up to the directors and refusing to do nudity. She was willing to go further than she had before, but didn’t think it was appropriate for her character to be seen naked. (Not like her character was a porn star or anything like that.)
The Eli Experience Featurette – Chris Marquette goes to the AVN Awards convention pretending to be his character Eli, and an adult film director. He brings along fellow cast mate and wrestler Matt Horshu Wiese. Together they pull pranks on convention-goers seeing if they can get them to do auditions (sex scenes) with the giant wrestler. It’s actually pretty entertaining, but might have been better if they were a little subtler in some of the pranks they try and do.
A Look Next Door Making-of Featurette – It discusses the characters, their motivations, and the overall themes of the film. The part I liked best is when they discuss how Elisha almost didn’t get the part because the studio execs weren’t sure she would be sexy enough to be believable as a porn star. I had to wonder if they had actually ever seen Elisha before? Hello?
Gag Reel – A pretty typical bloopers reel, but at least it had strippers in it.
Deleted and Extended Scenes Including the Original Ending - Every deleted scene was cut for good reason. If some of the scenes had been left in, it would have given away too much information and the big surprise of what’s on the videotape would have been ruined. However, I did enjoy seeing those clips after the fact. The original ending is only an extra 5-10 seconds added on to the film where they show Matthew at the White House smoking a cigar and musing about how he got there.
The film was shot in Widescreen 1.85:1 with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Digital Dolby. The video is much clearer and brighter than the original DVD release, but has a surprising amount of grain for a recent release. The audio didn’t really impress me much, which could be the reason I overlooked it. The film doesn’t really have a big soundtrack. It’s mostly dialogue, and even when there is music in the film, it's lightly in the background setting the mood.
I actually really enjoyed The Girl Next Door. It reminded me of a film that would have been shot in the ‘80s. It had a good story and didn’t throw in the gratuitous gross-out scene like many of today’s films do. It reminded me of Risky Business. In this film there was a porn star, instead of a hooker. There was a $25,000 bank account instead of the crystal egg that had to be replaced, along with some badass hoods trying to stop him. Even the voiceover by the main character and the character’s evolution from a kid with no experience to a young adult with a unique experience on life was almost the same in the two films. There are a number of twists and turns in the film and the characters are really fleshed out. Kelly is the most interesting character as he is both the big brother and the scary bad guy but still manages to be likable in the end.
The most disappointing thing is the Blu-ray disc itself. It seems like they just made it just so they could push it out on the newer format. There’s no inserts in the box, the features on the Blu-ray are fewer than what’s on the original DVD, and when you load it up, it just goes to a screen showing a picture of the cover. The DVD actually has a background scene going on which changes as you move through the different selections. All and all, it just felt really cheap.