The Girl Next Door (1/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a straight arrow high school senior in competition for a scholarship to Georgetown University. He’s got to get the scholarship because his parents can’t afford to send him on their own. Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door. She seems sweet and innocent and beautiful and knowledgeable, but she’s got a past as a porn star. Enter Kelly (Timothy Oliphant), Danielle’s “Director,” who wants her back onscreen. He poses as Matthew’s friend but Matthew finds out he’s no friend. Then there are Matthew’s friends, Eli (‘Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul Dano). Elie’s a wannabe filmmaker who spends most of his time watching porn. Klitz is an uptight teenager who seems fearful of everything.

The “plot”, I guess, is for Matthew to determine whether he’s going to act responsibly and give the speech that will decide whether or not he’s going to get his scholarship or whether he’ll act irresponsibly and sacrifice all for his slutty girl friend of a couple of days. His parents provide no guidance whatever.

This film, directed by Luke Greenfield and written by Stuart Blumberg, has such a low moral tone that it’s off the charts. Greenfield and Blumberg are more confused than their fictional creations. On the one hand they picture Matthew as not being in the “in” group that has all the fun, and a person with only two friends, but then they tell us he’s President of the Student Council!  What gives here? Is he popular or not? If he’s popular why isn’t he in the “in” crowd? How did he become President of the Student Council if he only has two friends? But logic is the least of these guys’ worries. Apparently all they’re interested in is box office. Forget logic or morality or reason.

And this appearance of irresponsible greed is shown in their manipulation of the All Media Screening. There were a few rows reserved for media, but the theater was full. I asked who everyone else was and was told that they dragged teenagers off the street so that the reaction would be positive. And the teenagers, with their unsophisticated sense of values, laughed at the stupid sexual entendres and liked the movie. This is the intellect to which this movie appeals. What’s wrong with that?  Consider:

  1. The film promotes free sex without emotion or consequence;
  2. It’s idea of good sexual practice is simply to know how to apply a condom, and it thinks this is oh, so funny;
  3. The film represents “love” as the infatuation of a teenage boy for a sexually sophisticated “girl next door,” and presents the moral that it’s OK to forego a college scholarship, for which he has worked all his high school life, for the “love” of someone he’s known a couple of days;
  4. It presents this boy’s loving parents as simplistic, ingenuous, caricatures who don’t know their elbows from third base. Their loving trust in their son is pictured as naïve;
  5. It presents a high school boy who spends a substantial amount of time watching pornography as ordinary and comedic;
  6. It validates lying.

This film is a disgrace. To think that a major studio, Fox, would even make such a film is an outrage. Isn’t there anybody in this studio who stepped back and said, “Wait a minute. Is this the kind of film we want to present to teenage audiences? What’s the moral of this film? That proper sex education consists of telling a boy how to apply a condom? Is this the message we want to send to a society that has far too much promiscuous sex and far to many out of wedlock births?”

Apparently there’s nobody at Fox who represents these values because they made the film and are spending a lot of money to promote it. Shame on Fox.

March 24, 2004

The End