Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Girl Next Door

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, language and some drug/alcohol use

Reviewed by: Joe Sinko

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy, Romance
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 9, 2004
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
Copyright, 20th Century Fox

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Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How can I tell if I’m getting addicted to pornography or sex? Answer

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Is there a way to overcome excessive lust for sex? Answer

Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Read article

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Featuring: Elisha Cuthbert (24, Old School, Mail to the Chief. Time at the Top)
Emile Hirsch (The Emperor’s Club, The Mudge Boy, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys)
Timothy Olyphant (Dreamcatcher, A Man Apart)
James Remar (2 Fast 2 Furious, Duplex)
Paul Franklin Dano (The Emperor’s Club)
Chris Marquette
Timothy Bottoms
Director: Luke Greenfield (The Animal)
Producer: Charles Gordon, Harry Gittes, Marc Sternberg
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

“Matt never saw her coming… but all his friends had!”

Plot Outline: A teenager’s dreams come true when a former porn star moves in next door and they fall in love.

This movie is a takeoff on the Tom Cruise movie “Risky Business.” The story line is about a young women (Danielle) who is attempting to get out of the pornographic movie business and “regain her innocence.”

Danielle temporarily moves next door to Matthew (Emile Hirsch) to house-sit for her aunt. Of course, she is very beautiful and captures Matthew’s attention right away. Matthew is a smart, ambitious young man who is trying to go to Georgetown University after graduating High School. His goal is to one day become the President. He is also helping to raise $25,000 to bring a “brilliant young man” called “Samnang” from a poor country to live and go to school in the United States. However, the idea is that Matthew’s life is a little too “flat,” and needs to be spiced up. The story surrounds him and the innocent relationship he initially develops with Danielle.

One of Matthew’s friends, however, is very perverted and discovers that Danielle is actually a porn star. This “friend” encourages Matthew to capitalize on the situation and take her to a hotel, because he is sure that she will be easy to get sex from, and that’s what he himself would do.

This friend of Matthew’s is very obnoxious and perverse—constantly using the f-word. Never once were his parents shown during the movie, and he spends all of his spare time watching and thinking about pornography. It is very disturbing.

As the story develops, Danielle gets very upset in the hotel room and decides that there is no point in trying to change—she is going back to the porn business. This leads to a very nasty encounter with her “producer” who steals all of the money that Matthew has been saving to bring Samnang to the U.S. Predictably, and just like the plot in “Risky Business,” Matthew has to find a way to recover the $25,000. And, of course, the means is through making a porn movie featuring his high school friends and porn stars.

“The Girl Next Door” is designed to appeal to the lasciviousness that is running rampant in our culture. It is predictable, awkward, full of profanity and nudity. It pokes fun at the use of ecstasy and portrays the majority of high school kids as morally bankrupt. It falls way short of the movie trailers, except the ones used to imply that it is “every boy’s fantasy to live next to a young beautiful porn star who will fulfill their sexual desires.”

This is a porn movie, make no mistake. It should have been rated “NC-17.” There are many elements that I found filthy and offensive. The movie pokes fun at “normal” kids who are doing their best to get a good education and become contributing citizens in society. It implies that casual sex and pornography are generally harmless things that really hurt no one, and that using drugs will make you funny and enlightened.

The Bible warns Christians to set their minds on things above, not on the things of this Earth (Col 3:2), and that “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Over and again, the New Testament tells us to flee those things that would defile our minds and spirits. This movie fits very well into that category.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I saw this movie because of Emile Hirsch, who has proved his talent in movies like THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTARBOYS and THE EMPEROR’S CLUB, which was better than I expected it to be. And as for this movie, which some people seem to believe is Hollywood’s way of promoting pornography, I loved it. Mostly I loved the romance and the nobility of it all.

…I disagree that this movie promotes pornography—it shows the devastating effects of pornography upon the lives of its participants. Danielle wants OUT of the porn industry. No viewer would want to become like the porn producer with phallic artwork throughout his house. He is portrayed as pathetic and unlikeable. The porn guys are the bad guys.

…That was a plot point that the reviewer …missed—while at first the audience is led to believe that the are making a porn video, they are actually making a sex-ed video that students will actually watch and learn from.

There is a nobility about Matthew’s love for Danielle that is precious. He does not get excited about her involvement in porn—he is terribly upset by it. But he loves her anyway. He must sacrifice his ideal image of an innocent, beautiful, pure woman because he loves a real woman. He can’t have his fantasy girl—he gets the girl he loves.

If there are problems with this film, they include the three or four endings, which make it longer than it should have been.

As for the character of the porn-addicted friend—just like Vince Vaughn’s character in OLD SCHOOL, it turns out that he’s all talk. When it actually comes to doing what he’s told everyone else to do, he can’t. He is an endearing, John Cusack-esque character who is a little on the pathetic side, but a genuine friend to Matthew.

Negative elements of the film: the length, some of the nudity. (The sex scene between Matthew and Danielle, however, is very tastefully done.)

Postive elements: Emile Hirsch’s performance, an excellent soundtrack, sacrificial love, responsibility, condemnation of the porn industry. That, and it’s a great love story.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Donna, age 21
Positive—This isn’t a movie for kids, but it’s definitely one that older teens and young adults will like. It’s got some very funny moments and the characters are all likeable, even the “bad” guys” There’s also an awesome ending that you completely don’t expect, all I’ll say is, you’re expecting one thing and another (pleasantly surprising) thing happens. There’s a bit of drug use, but like in a lot movies, it’s not glorified, rather made to make the character seem ridiculous. There is some nudity (nothing frontal, just some bums and breasts) but if you’re the type of person who gets offended by that this probably isn’t the movie for you.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Kat, age 19
Positive—This movie moved me to tears. I broke down seeing Matthew pursue her to the convention in LA, the greatest concentration of depravity, because he loved her and wanted to pull her out of that lifestyle. For the “Christian” version, go read Hosea. While I didn’t like the ending, or scenes which didn’t contribute to the overall value (with nudity) the movie itself is a wonderful picture of genuine love and commitment. The “porn addict” friend is a good portrayal of the effects of porn—inability to form genuine relationships or see women as more than objects.

On another note, seeing this overwhelmed me with conviction for the times I had given in to temptation to see pornography—without ever realizing how terrible, destructive and dehumanizing this is. “Danielle” is a person—as the women who do this for real. Don’t take your kids to this, but older adults may enjoy it. Get them a Bible study on the book of Hosea in the Old Testament instead.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
—Eric, age 23
Neutral—A fairly respectable message double-coated in rampant sexuality describes “The Girl Next Door.” To start off, this film is standard teen romp fare. The movie itself promotes a good message, it’s never too late to turn from your past and change for the better. Danielle (Cuthbert) wants to leave her life as a porn star and wants to be viewed as a normal person, not a sex object.

She finds an innocence in Matthew (Hirsch) and it makes her feel better not to be degraded. A side message is to enjoy life. Matthew is so caught up in achieving academically he has failed to find the balance of having a normal social life. It’s good to see him break out of his shell when he meets and gets to know Danielle. While I appreciated those messages of the movie, families will not want to sort through the sexual content to reach the end. The central character being an ex-porn star opens doors for heavy sexual content.

Sex for play is a major downside to the film. Love does not seem to be a factor for the most part and when it is, it is outside of wedlock. “R” rated profanity is also ever present. In the end, the events of the movie do not play out as they would in real life. People who find themselves in situations similar to Matthew’s don’t escape the problems as easily as he does, and are definitely not glorified for them in the end.

“The Girl Next Door” will open up some discussion, but is NOT appropriate viewing for families with children of any age.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3½]
—Charles, age 20
Neutral—I got back from seeing this movie with a friend, and I didn’t think it was going to be all that good. It turned out better than I thought it would. A former porn star quit her job and is trying to live a normal life and regain her lost innocence. The movie really shows what porn can do to people; it had a horrible effect on this girl’s life. So, this movie has a good little lesson to it; I just wish it didn’t have all the nudity, strip clubs, sex, and all the other “3” that were attached to it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Trevor Mullen, age 20
Neutral—I know most would not agree with me—and, yes, I saw all the breasts and nudity, the swearing and seductive nature of this film—but if we can look past that for a moment… I would not ever want to see porn again after this. I am a Christian who deals with the same problem, this silent killer called pornography that many Christian men deal with. But this movie draws you in and shows you a real lovely sweet girl struggling to change her ways, and start a new life. You actually see the pain she is in from how guys view her. You emotionally hate porn after this movie because you connect with her and want to see her get out of the industry. It… doesn’t glamorize this lifestyle in anyway, and it shows one of the side characters who is obsessed with porn and how it damages his view of women and just makes his mind so totally warped it is almost laughable, yet very sad. It does not condone pornography, in my opinion, but rather shows the damage that it has in many ways with several characters. I do not feel that I could recommend this film, but I needed to weigh in my opinion.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Bob, age 21

Reviewer’s response: I read Bob’s opinion (above), and I’m glad, if that’s what he got out of it. However, I disagree with Bob for some of the following reasons:

  1. Porn was overwhelmingly treated with a funny and cavalier attitude throughout the movie.
  2. Porn was far more glamorized than demonized. The movie didn’t really show the seamier aspects of those who are in “the industry” and the tragic effects it has on the people who make and watch the movies. The movie never gave an accurate portrayal of how porn destroys the lives of those who work in it, and those who view it.
  3. The young man who was “addicted” to porn spent nearly all of his free time watching porn videos in his bedroom. We know what that would really do to the mind of any person, as well as how they tend to think that females are mainly to be used as men’s sexual objects. Yet, this young man given almost hero-like status in the show. The audience seemed to laugh at almost everything he said and did.
  4. There were no serious moments of discussion in the film about the personal devastation that comes to those in porn, or those who use porn. Even though the character did want out, and to improve her life, she went back to it rather unhesitatingly when she was disappointed. There was not one moment for some serious reflection on reality, or to have your heart moved by the pain these people go through.
  5. Seeing a movie that uses a very weak, and very disguised moral message about “the evils of porn,” can never be a substitute for sound Biblical counseling. People who are addicted to porn are not going to wean themselves off of it by going to a titillating movie, and getting fed the mental imagery for over 90 minutes. It’s kind of like an alcoholic going to a bar to swish a little beer around in their mouth while watching other people drinking, and then saying “man, I learned once again why I shouldn’t be drinking beer!” 1 Cor. 10:13 is a great Scriptural truth about escaping temptation. And in 1 Cor. 15:33 says “Evil company corrupts good habits.” It seems to me that the best way to stay free from that which once had you in chains is to not play around with it anymore. There are far better ways to get a therapeutic look at what porn really does to people, like seeing the videos that Focus On The Family produced about Ted Bundy.

Editor’s Note: Various good books are available on this subject.

Negative—…just another Hollywood propaganda tool to promote sex. They ruined another movie that could have been good. The profanity could have been removed and the nudity diminished and still achieved the same plot. I agree that it does portray the seemly side of pornography. I don’t encourage anyone to see this movie, but I pray that any women who do decide to do so will see that all PORN does is pray on women, uses them, and then discards them as if all they are is a piece of meat with which to satisy the greedy, lustful, evil desires of men.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
—S. Owens, age 57
Negative—I had liked Risky Business and I was told that the story was similar so I went to see “The Girl Next Door.” I must say, to the films credit, the story is creative and takes some unexpected twists and turns. However, the producers could have done the same plot without the nudity and graphic details. One scene in the film sums up contemporary popular culture well when the “villain” in this “melodrama” says, “sometimes you have to do bad to do good.” Hedonistic moral relativism just bellows out of this film like smoke from the twin towers on 9/11. If you combine Burt Reynolds “Boggie Nights” (which was not as good as this one) and “Risky Business” you have “The Girl Next Door.” If you do decided to see this film, which I didn’t think was a total waste of time, take this warning and go by yourself. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I went and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted my wife or children along, which begs the question… I know!!!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/4]
—Bob C., age 40
Comments from young people
Negative—This movie isn’t as “offensive” as it’s just plain filthy and boring. Except for a gay slur that you’ll probably miss, it’s not that offensive, considering almost every teen who sees the movie uses the word. It’s a comedy, with no funny or interesting characters and just goes nowhere. Basically, it sucks the youth into it with a promise the female lead gets naked. This never happened and every 13 year old boy and 20-something year old man was disappointed. I thought the movie was pretty bad, but somehow better than I thought it would be, though I was dragged to it by 2 friends and a girlfriend. Anyhoo, I don’t understand how a handful of sex jokes are “offensive” (at least it’s not as “offensive” as using the N-word), but some people are just really uptight. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t smile and the movie is just getting you to see it by using porn as its theme. Film: D+
My Ratings: [1½]
—A.J., age 16
Negative—This is what you call a porn film . This is the sickest most perverted movie I’ve ever seen. Stay away from THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Joe DeNville, age 13
Neutral—…This film made some children to appear morally bankrupt, but not all. The main character worked hard in school, and took his studies seriously. He was portrayed as having morals, but not many. The film showed some highschool kids wanting to become famous porn stars. Also seen in this movie were some “popular” jocks, who would resort to violence, and would drink. This is a reality of highschool…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3½]
—Hailie, age 15
Positive—I think it was a very funny film, and I saw the unrated version, although it did have a modest amount of nudity, there was much more to it than that. Like others have said, it is about a boy trying to save a girl from her career as a “pornstar.” I think it’s just hilarious, and if you can’t laugh at sex and sexuality then what can you laugh at?
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Andrew, age 17
Movie Critics
…Who in the world read this script and thought it was acceptable?…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…romantic theme is lost in the filth of sexual content and dialog, homosexuality, foul language and profanity, and glamorization of the porn industry…
—Brian Hughes, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…graphic sexual content and moral depravity…
—Bob Smithouser, Plugged In
…the porn component makes “The Girl Next Door” feel contrived and exploitative…
—Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune
—James Berardinelli, ReelViews
…alternates between slobbery adolescent male fantasy and prim Hollywood moralizing, with valuable lessons trotted out in skimpy lingerie…
—A.O. Scott, New York Times