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Friday, April 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Movie Review
'Girl Next Door': The only thing that shines is the lip gloss

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic

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In a time when nearly every movie appears to be aimed at 14-year-old boys, "The Girl Next Door" nonetheless manages to distinguish itself: It appears to not only be made for hormone-crazed adolescents, but by them. How a bunch of teenagers got funding for a slick-looking movie, I have no idea — their dad's credit cards, perhaps?

No, no, no — I've no doubt that director Luke Greenfield and screenwriters Stuart Blumberg, David T. Wagner and Brent Goldberg are, at least chronologically, adults. But you wouldn't know it from "The Girl Next Door," in which every high-school girl looks like a supermodel, the word "dude" passes for humor, and the central character's maturity is attained through an alliance with the lip-gloss-laden former porn star who just happens to move in next door.

Movie review


Showtimes and trailer

*
"The Girl Next Door," with Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano. Directed by Luke Greenfield, from a screenplay by Stuart Blumberg, David T. Wagner and Brent Goldberg. 109 minutes. Rated R for strong sexual content, language and some drug/alcohol use. Several theaters.

This is teenage male fantasy writ large (the teenage girl version would probably involve an Urban Outfitters or Sephora store moving in next door, with unlimited credit), so it's hardly fair to complain that it's nonsensical. But it's also bereft of wit, charm and character.

Young Matthew (Emile Hirsch) is supposedly a misfit at his high school (though the only oddball trait I could discern is that he's bland). His new neighbor Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert, who has that slightly feral, hungry porn-star look to her — perhaps Danielle just needs a good meal?) is entirely without personality traits — she's not even a cipher, as that would imply that she has mystery.

The two strike up a friendship — based, apparently, on their mutual interest in nothing whatsoever — and Matthew becomes drawn into the world that Danielle is trying to escape. "Why do you believe in me so much?" she asks him at one point. In an example of this movie's sparkling dialogue, he replies, "I don't know." But we know: He believes in her because she wears skimpy tops, low-slung pants and all that lip gloss, and that's the level on which "The Girl Next Door" operates.

But, as this movie's target demographic might say, whatever. Teenagers (most of whom, it should be pointed out, theoretically can't attend "The Girl Next Door" because of its R rating) will likely not be disturbed by this movie's portrayal of women as, essentially, walking bras. Perhaps the filmmakers, when they grow up, will realize that they should be.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com


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