Saturday, 23 July 2011

100 days, 100 films; Day 37 - The Girl Next Door

#64 - The Girl Next Door:

Matt never saw her coming, but all his friends had...
You know I never actually got the pun behind that tagline until a few months ago when I started this challenge. Now unless you can count I Know What You Did Last Summer as a teen movie even though the characters in it have just graduated, this would kind of be the first teen movie on my list. Being pretty much a teen myself (19 so that counts right?) of course I do like to watch films about my own people. I haven’t seen that many John Hughes movies but I did have to sit through Heathers, and the less I say about that the better. So here’s to explain the first teen movie on my list:

Meet Mathew Kidman, on the verge of graduation. He’s class president and currently responsible for raising a large sum of money to bring a Cambodian genius to school in America, but he doesn’t really do much else. He has two friends who are both nerds, one being a shy wall flower and the other being a complete perv. But even when he’s already been accepted to a college and his tests are all over, he still can’t bring himself to cut loose. Things change when one of the most beautiful women in the world moves next door to him. It turns out that the beautiful Danielle is exactly what he needs as she pushes him to live life a bit more such as stripping in the middle of the road and going skinny dipping in his principal’s swimming pool. Things must be perfect right? Well one of his friends (guess which one) discovers that Danielle is actually Athena, a famous porn actress.

The film actually does have another plot after that little revelation but I don’t want to spoil the rest of the movie for you. For those not really sure about the genre (does “teen” count as a genre?) it is a romantic comedy, and one of the biggest things that sticks out to me about this movie (besides what I know some of my pervier readers are currently thinking about) is the fact that the two leads are among the minority of movie couples who genuinely look like they’re in love. I guess it works because both actors were relatively unknown at the time and this wasn’t just a star vehicle for either of them. Elisha Cuthbert who plays Danielle is indeed one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and it was quite a shock for her to play a Final Girl in House of Wax (though I guess nobody would buy Paris Hilton as a virgin). She’s a pretty underrated actress and she has this it factor about her that makes her the ideal girl. She’s cute, funny and a little exciting. Emile Hirsch, who plays Mathew, is hilarious. I didn’t care much for him in Lords of Dogtown but I found myself liking him here. I mean, Matty is pretty relatable for the most part. His crowner is where he accidentally gets fed Ecstasy right before a big dinner he’s meant to have. It must be seen to be believed. 
The supporting actors include Timothy Olyphant in one of his most hilarious roles – see the scene where he bursts into Mathew’s class and drags him out only to turn back and say “stay in school”. Chris Marquette is hilarious but infuriating as Matty’s pervy friend Eli – “take her to a motel room and bang her like a beast” – he even watches porn while on the phone to his friends. He actually reminds me of a friend of mine (though said friend is much nicer). And WWE fans will recognise Luther Reins in a small role as Mule. 

I guess something that should be acknowledged is that the lead actress isn’t really exploited for Fanservice. She’s shown to be sexy without being too trashy, showing how she wants to move away from the porn world. The Fanservice instead comes from the other porn actresses April and Ferrari. And I don’t know if this was intentional but when we see Danielle as “Athena” she isn’t exactly a knockout since she’s hidden under a red wig and way too much makeup. Danielle looks much better when isn’t overdoing it as it keeps her looking more sweet and cute than trashy or skanky. This film is actually pretty tastefully done for a flick about a porn star. There is one scene at a porn convention but that’s really the only time we get any nudity (and it is good-oh). It would undermine the message of the movie if Danielle were shown fully nude. 

As I stated above, the most bust-a-gut funny scene in this film is Mathew’s dinner where he enters stoned out of his mind and has to give a big speech. Highlights include tonguing a nerdy girl randomly, grinding to “Lady Marmalade” completely shamelessly and of course his eventual speech. Another hilarious scene comes when Eli and Klitz pretend to be directors and a porn actress asks them to use her in one of their films only for her boyfriend to walk in...and be thrilled with the idea. The less comedic scenes are also pretty good and a very underrated scene comes where Mathew has found out Danielle is a porn star and reluctantly takes her to a motel room. She starts to strip for him, thinking that’s what he wants but she looks like she’s about to cry. Indeed the line “so this is what you think of me?” is enough to make anyone well up. I also think the eventual Matty/Danielle sex scene is beautifully done and the musical theme that follows them around is calm and heart-warming.

So that’s another film down on the list and I clock a teen movie for the first time. As I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of comedies so of course one making my list obviously means it impressed me. As an aside note, I found the ending to be one of my favourite movie endings ever. It was pretty entertaining to watch and I have to say I did enjoy all the meaningful dialogue echoes that popped up like “what’s the craziest thing you’ve done lately?” and many more. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and oh yeah, Stay in School.

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