Nylon Guy's cover boy this month will be none other than Paul Dano, and this inspired me to do a short Revival Review! Plus we're nearing summer (don't let the hail storms fool you), and this always felt like a summer flick to me.
I was first introduced to shy Dano via The Girl Next Door, one of the best teen comedies I've seen (and often overlooked). My initial pull to see it came from leading man Emile Hirsch, but after watching I realized the film is successful because it's a group effort from everyone involved, not just one "shining star." The plot revolves around soon to graduate high school senior Matthew Kidman (Hirsch), a boy who's had no life in order to plan for his future at Georgetown University. His goal is to be the next JFK, and he's got the hair to do it... but holed up in his room writing queue cards, he's not not getting too much "life" experience. As Matt daydreams about ditching class to go the beach with the jocks and the anorexic mean girls, his best friends (each outcasts in their own way) Klitz (Dano) and Eli (Chris Marquette), try to talk him back to down to earth, they even try bribing him with porn. It doesn't take much to deflate easily walked over Matt, and thus he returns to his life of solitude. But just as he's about to give up on the idea of fun in high school, beautiful blonde Danielle moves in next door, complete with a silver Beetle (the car, not the insect) and a vast collection of brightly colored bras. Various comedic/naked antics ensue.
The film's premise is cute as far as teen comedies go, but this film had a surprising amount of heart. Beyond Matt and Danielle's adorable fumbling toward ecstasy relationship, the "tripod" of friendship is the best 3 man team since the Evil Trio (wikipedia Buffy if you don't know what that means) (and I exclude the Super Bad boys because they are in a league of their own). Before Zack and Miri Make a Porno, there was this movie, and if I'm being 100% honest, Girl Next Door is far superior. When Matt realizes that the girl of his dreams is actually indeed a porn star, it throws his world into turmoil leading him to do things he never thought he would, including showing up at an adult film expo in an attempt to save Danielle from evil Kelly (played to perfection by the amazing Timothy Olyphant), and sleezy Hugo Posh (played by James Remar who is creepy no matter who he's playing). There's cake, boobs, and a parrot... and if that's not enough to get you even a little interested, then nothing is. But, in all seriousness, this little movie turned out to be a launching pad for Dano, Marquette, and Cuthbert (who had prior only been known as Jack Bauer's daughter). And only furthered my enduring love of both Hirsch and Olyphant. It gave everyone a chance to show their lighter side without becoming an American Pie. And in case you aren't familiar with what an American Pie is; An American Pie is any film that seems humorous and telling in its hay day, but does not stand the test of time. Example: She's All That is an American Pie, while Can't Hardly Wait is not. But, I'm getting off topic. More reasons why you should see this movie below.
In listening to the director commentary (yes, I am that obsessed) you realize just how much of himself director Luke Greenfield put into the movie. The soundtrack is lovingly handcrafted to perfection including David Gray's "This Years Loving" playing during a pivotal scene. Greenfield actually said that he had the soundtrack nailed down before the script, because music is one of the things that inspires him most in his writing. The commentary also illuminates that it is NOT Emile Hirsch's bare behind that we see running alongside Danielle's car, but a stunt doubles (no surprise there). This is a movie for anyone in high school that wasn't a loner, but felt overlooked. You may not have been the star of your "team" and you did have friends, but you never made that long lasting "he's (or she's) the man" impression amongst your co-eds. This is the movie that helps imagine and embrace what it might have been like if you had. And sure, like any teen comedy, it has its moment of cheesosity, but on the whole, the reason this movie sticks with me as being worthwhile is that it's funnier and sweeter than the trailers let on, and it's more creative than what you've seen come out of this genre before.
So while it may never reach Can't Hardy Wait status (nor should it, that movie was genius), The Girl Next Door is definitely worth an afternoon or evening of your time, Especially if you're looking for a movie that somehow makes the porn industry look like it has heart (or at least part of it). And if you're looking for a good buddy movie, than it's for you. And if you're looking for a good romance than it's for you. And if you're looking for some Olyphant, than it's for you. But mostly, you just have to ask yourself one question; where the hell is Luke Greenfield now?
Short and Sweet
The Tripod, porn, minions, and an Asian exchange student named Samnang. It's all worth the squeeze.
"And you can still like her with your penis inside her. Matthew, I tell you that you're going to regret this. What would JFK do? You know he'd tap that ass."
"Goddammit Matt! I swear to God if you don't fuck her, I'll kill myself! Matt! Please! Please, Matt! Fuck her for me! For me!"