"The Girl Next Door" Blu-ray Review
September 22, 2009 by Zach Demeter
If ever there was a movie that was portrayed for more than what it really was, it was The Girl Next Door. Despite being wrapped up in scandalous packaging and marketed as a teen comedy, the film’s “racy” plot of a high school student and ex-porn star falling in love left critics confused and very little in terms of revenue came from the films 2000+ theatre run. Despite performing poorly in theaters, the film remains mildly popular, if only for the DVD cover (now used again for this Blu-ray edition) and the sequence from the film that features a soaked Elisha Cuthbert at the front door of Emile Hirsche’s house.
A tongue-wagging, sexy comedy centers on blond, hot and mysterious, Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert, “24”) as The Girl Next Door with a not-so-good-girl past and Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild), the straight-laced overachiever with political aspirations who falls in love with her. The wildly revealing and hilarious comedy is available on unrated Blu-ray Disc with more skin…more sex…and more laughs!
I’m not totally sure why Fox can’t seem to market this film as more of what it is: a teen comedy that actually has a little bit of heart to it. Similar to American Pie in that it centers on a standard sex driven plot but actually has some emotional punch to it in the end, The Girl Next Door is certainly full of “dirty” jokes but it honestly isn’t as explicit or gratuitous as one would think. Hell, I watched the unrated version when I was 17 and I ultimately walked away rather disappointed by how little this film pushed the boundaries…if at all. Re-watching the film now I definitely appreciate more for what it is than what I had hoped for back then (I was a huge 24 at the time and had just gotten into it, so Cuthbert in a role like this was even more “exciting,” although, again, despite being an ex-porn star, her role in here is so damn mild). I’ll refrain from making anymore references to what teenagers were hoping to get from this film, at the risk of this review becoming more lewd that it already is. But we all know what the core audience expected out of a film marketed the way this one was and considering how it delivered on barely any of it, it’s not surprising that it left more than a few teens disappointed.
But honestly I think this film actually stuck out in my mind more than other teen sex-fueled comedies of the era because of how different it was. It’s insistence on having characters constantly in the morally right and always trying to do their best made the film stand out and I particularly enjoyed the performance of Hirsch in this outing. At the time he wasn’t the star he is now and I honestly forgot he was even in this film until this Blu-ray showed up but I really did enjoy the performances here.
Looking back at this film I can actually see this as being something more of an 80s John Hughes movie than anything. The setup is the same and the film is full of the teen staples that made the Hughes films so delightful to watch. Notably the heart and genuine romance contained within this film is what made it a bit deeper than your normal outing. Granted I’m probably giving this film waaay too much credit now as it is really a simple, cheesy, and occasionally generic outing, but overall I was surprised by how well it held up and how genuinely entertaining it ended up being.
Overall The Girl Next Door isn’t a remarkable film but if you haven’t seen it yet and are looking for a comedy with a bit of heart to it, then you can’t really go wrong with this film. It’s kind of disappointing that this film didn’t perform a bit better than it did as I’m sure there is an audience for it out there…even if they are required to be a bit older and mature to appreciate the story completely. Recommended.
Fox has brought The Girl Next Door to Blu-ray in a standard Eco Elite Blu-ray case without any inserts. Disc art is a shot of Cuthbert laying down and menus are simple and easy to navigate. Sadly those expecting a brilliant Blu-ray transfer will be sorely disappointed as the films AVC encoded (@32mbps) transfer is incredibly bland. Not only is the transfer rather washed out and boring, but the overall lack of detail and clarity made me wonder if I was watching an upscaled DVD rather than a Blu-ray. I know not all films need to be in brilliant high definition and this film certainly isn’t one that calls for it but…I mean, c’mon. If you’re going to spend the money to bring this kind of film to Blu-ray when there is literally no one asking for it then at least spend a bit of time and clean up the transfer. The film is only five years old for crying out loud—how can it look so aged and dated?
Thankfully the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a bit more impressive, although only when it comes to the films robust soundtrack. As is usually the case with teen comedies the film is dialogue driven and as such the sound is focused in the front channels. There isn’t a whole lot of surround work to be taken in here but what’s there is all crystal clear and leveled adequately. Sadly though paired with the 1080p transfer these two Blu-ray elements of the release just don’t hold up and as such you can pretty much stick to your DVD edition unless you really want to buy this film again.
Extras are all repeated from the original DVD release and include:
• Commentary by Director Luke Greenfield
• Scene Specific Commentary by Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert
• “The Eli Experience” featurette
• Making of A Look Next Door
• Gag Reel
• 15 Deleted Scenes
• Original Ending
• Red Band GND Trailer “diRRTty”
• “Sex Education” featurette
They’re all solid extras but, again, they’re the same as the last release so no real reason to upgrade. Considering how cheap the DVD edition is now you’d be better off picking one of those up rather than going for this new Blu release—you get nothing new and the audio/video transfer certainly isn’t worth the upgrade. Skip It.
The Girl Next Door - Unrated Version is now available on Blu-ray.