In ’80s classic “Risky Business”, a teenage Tom Cruise falls head over heels for a hooker who consequently opens his eyes to the world, teaches him a thing or two about the horizontal mambo and unfortunately introduces him to some rather seedy work associates. And if that’s not enough she also plays a part in helping him get into the college of his choice.
In the new film, “The Girl Next Door”, a teenage Emile Hirsch falls head over heels for a porn star who consequently opens his eyes to the world, teaches him a thing or two about the horizontal mambo and unfortunately introduces him to some rather seedy work associates. And if that’s not enough she also plays a part in helping him get into the college of his choice.
But the storylines aren’t the only thing “Girl Next Door” shares in common with Paul Brickman’s 1983 comedy hit. There’s the musical score, which five minutes in you’ll swear is Tangerine Dream’s composition. Then there’s the characters, in particular the supporting bunch (everyone from the nerd friends to the fetid former employer is analogous), and not forgetting, our two leads – the beautiful worldly blonde (Elisa Cuthbert) and the good guy who gets her attention (Emile Hirsch), easily curious doubles for Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay of the earlier flick.
But bottom line: Name one teen flick that isn’t a blatant rip-off of something else. American Pie is merely just “Porky’s” with more wit, She’s All That is purely an updated “Can’t Buy Me Love” and Road Trip was merely a Xerox of the little-seen “Overnight Delivery”. In most cases, all teen comedies could be classified as an unofficial remake of something else. And at the end of the day, most of the films in the genre aren’t that imaginative or novel to start with, so it doesn’t really matter if they’ve flogged someone else’s earlier idea.
Hirsch plays Matthew Kidman, the nobody of the local high school whose only real ambition is to go to Georgetown College. How things quickly change when he falls for ‘the girl next door’ – Danielle (Cuthbert), a sexy city gal who makes him quickly forget about pop quizzes and admission tests and focusing purely on raging with his new babe. When he finds out Danielle’s actually a former porn star he flips out – but eventually comes to the realisation that she’s better than that, and heads off to a convention – with his two dorky pals – to rescue her from her squalid world.
Whilst not a shade on the Cruise flick, “The Girl Next Door” is actually a movie that entertains thoroughly, despite the fact it’s template has merely been ripped out of a ‘how to write a teen comedy’ manual. It’s got everything the genre calls for – boppy music, cute boys, cute girls, lots of sexual lingo, and most importantly, laughs. Emile Hirsch carries the film successfully as the token innocent, but it’s Elisa Cuthbert who deserves most of the kudos – providing not only a great cadaver and mug to concentrate on for an hour and a half, but proves she’s more than Kim Bauer (her character on TV’s “24”) –in fact, quite a comedienne and artiste.
Predictable, been there done that, and hardly side-splitting, yet still “The Girl Next Door” delivers as a spicy hot tortilla full of laughs, romance and with one hell of a stunning leading lady. This year’s “Risky Business”.
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