The Juice Is Worth The Squeeze
It is, unfortunately, difficult to get past the film's brutally long list of cliches. Cuthbert is yet another manifestation of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, albeit one with a more checkered past than usual. The whole "two different people tasked with helping each other find themselves" theme -- barf. It's full of Meaningful Musical Montages With Appropriately Time Crescendoes. The attraction between the two leads is sort of inexplicable, even though their chemistry is actually quite good. The high school stereotypes are broad and dumb. The supporting cast, particularly Eli and Klitz, are given almost no depth at all. And the finale, involving a harebrained blackmail scheme and wacky prom hijinks, wraps itself up a little too neatly.
Yet it's engaging and affecting enough to (mostly) navigate through those tired tropes. It's bolstered by its savvy writing, clever dialogue and some genuinely hilarious moments. It's also helped by an outstanding and eclectic soundtrack, featuring acts like Monster Magnet, Satchel, Filter, Groove Armada, Elliott Smith, Echo and the Bunnymen and even Lynyrd Skynyrd (though it does suffer from an excess of David Grey -- but then, any David Grey is too much David Grey). The Girl Next Door is hardly one of the all time great teen romantic comedies, although to be honest, that's hardly an ouevre that I'm fit to judge. Yet despite its flaws, it still manages to be a bawdy, entertaining and yes, sweet coming of age flick. With lots of booze, drugs and nudity, of course.
TK writes about music and movies. He enjoys playing with dogs, raising the dead, and tacos. You can email him here.
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