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The Girl Next Door's Risky Business

The latest disposable teen movie mixes porn, romance, and a tried-and-true comedy formula.

11:00 PM, Mar 11, 2004 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is Hollywood's latest reprise of a time-honored theme, the teen movie. During the last 30 years, the industry has churned out one enterprise after another, producing standouts such as Risky Business, Dazed and Confused, Porky's and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, to name just a few of my favorites. Director Luke Greenfield makes an admirable attempt to vault The Girl Next Door into the realm of these cult classics, and although he falls well short, his film provides enough hi-jinks, romance, and cleavage to be a box office favorite this spring.

Elisha Cuthbert plays Danielle, a porn star (stage name--"Athena") who, for some unknown reason, has moved in next door to Westport High School's student council president, Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch). Despite Matthew's success in the world of student body politics, and his admission to Georgetown, he carries the heavy burden of virginity, which in the fantasy world of the teen movie is roughly equivalent to cancer. Fortunately for us, this cancer can be cured--and how.

This formula was more successfully employed in Risky Business, where Tom Cruise breaks out of his preppy conformity and retains the services of a prostitute (deftly played by Rebecca De Mornay). Having been intimate with a call girl, he is then met with the more formidable challenge of financing the restoration of his father's Porsche, lately retrieved from the bottom of Lake Michigan. By turning his house into a brothel and himself into a pimp, Cruise fixes the car, gains admission to Princeton, and becomes a legend in his own time. Substitute hookers for porn stars, pimping for producing, and De Mornay for Cuthbert, and you've got The Girl Next Door.

Still, the film is rich in physical comedy, eliciting frequent laughter from the audience. Furthermore, the plot is not as hopelessly predictable as one has come to expect from movies of this ilk. With a weaker cast and less compelling plot than Cruise's classic, The Girl Next Door manages to stay afloat by relying on Cuthbert's physical buoyancy and a proven formula for teen drama.

Michael Goldfarb is a staff assistant at The Weekly Standard.