Revival Review: "Is the juice worth the squeeze?"

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.

Fav Quotes

"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!"


Trista DeVries said...

Gasp! Paul Dano was in this?!?! I don't think I really knew, although,
I saw this long before he popped up on my radar in the brilliant Little Miss Sunshine. I think he's going to go places, you know? He's just got that quiet indie look about him and damn he's talented.

g nemec said...

I like this movie too, especially the three buddies. BUT...
It is really just redrawn from the blueprint for "Risky Business." Same story arc, same villain, same same same. Porn world instead of hookers. So I kinda knew what would happen the whole movie.

Write more about "Can't Hardly Wait" when you get a chance. Love it, even though I feel way too old to admit that.

do you have a flag? said...

That's not a bad idea Greg. When the mood strikes me I'll definitely write about Can't Hardly Wait. And yes, even though The Girl Next Door is predictable, it was still so much fun!

Karen said...

I actually liked that movie. And I agree with you on Can't Hardly Wait. That movie was stellar (in a teen comedy kind of way).


Ranielle said...

They screened the hell out of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, so I ended up seeing it half a dozen times in Seattle before it came out. It never. Gets. Old. So hilarious! Hirsch, Dano and Marquette are so perfect as the tripod and Olyphant is un-friggin'-believable. I agree that it's vastly underrated.

PS. You chose two of my favorite Eli quotes at the end there. Though Kelly's "stay in school" is pretty good, too.

Actionman said...

Girl Next Door had its moments, especially those with Olyphant -- he stole the film. Still, it's unforgivable (and completely inexcusable) not to have cast an actress who would be willing to get naked when playing a freaking porn star. Cuthbert is so hot, but since she didn't want to get nekid, they should have cast someone else. It made zero sense that we never got a chance to see her in the flesh; her character is a SEX WORKER!

But still, cute movie.

do you have a flag? said...

Well I'm not sure it's that she wasn't willing, I think it's that they weren't necessarily aiming to have her be naked... but I have no idea.

Trista DeVries said...

Don't get me wrong Actionman, I'm the world's number one supporter of nudity, but I think that since the entire movie was supposed to be about how she wanted to get OUT of the porn business, I think they hit the mark. Although you've clearly just outed yourself as wanting to see Cuthbert naked. Didn't she do that in some issue of Maxim?