Monday, September 06, 2004


The Girl Next Door

This was one of those movies that I wanted to see but simply never made it into the theater in time. The beyond plausible plot of a porn star's early retirement, an over achieving boy next door, his sexually obsessed best friend, a Cambodian genius named Samnang, and a giant gold plated penis give us a sweet simple puppy love story that spiral into a ridiculous tale of debauchery. Damn was it a fun ride! This film isn't great, but it's certainly fun. There were moments of complete hillarity capped by an outstanding performace by Timothy Olyphant who in the past gave us memorable characters in Scream 2 and Go. His character of the sleezy producer straddled the line of endearing scum bag, sinister con man, to ruthless sadest.

What this film did not deliver was a break out performance by Elisha Cuthburt who gained fame as the constant damsel in distress as Kim Bauer on 24. Being one of those people who is blantently insulted by the utter stupidity of the character of Kim, I was very interested in seeing Elisha in another character. Alas, her performance was boring and static. She was great at being blonde and scrumpteous, but that's about it. She gave very little besides a nice ass for the Emile Hersch's character to fall in love with... but, from prior experience, victimized pouty blondes with a nice ass are virtually impossible for any 18 year old boy to resist, even if it involves blowing everything he's every worked for. And I thought girls were only that dumb. (God, that sounds bitter. I really don't mean it that way.) Regardless of the sub par skill of Miss Cuthbert, this film worth the watch.

From the crazy to the cute, I've been working on my girlieness this weekend. I forced my boy into watching 13 Going on 30. I believe this was the last movie I watched before starting up the blog, so, here's to revisiting...

13 Going on 30

Yes, as my dear friend Darren says, "Jennifer Garner is the cutest thing ever." The most brilliant aspect of this beautifully styled film is that she's just the right amount of cute. The amount that any girl can identify with, without making us vomit. I personally hate 99% of romatic comedies. I was not keen on seeing a movie that was an obvious play on Big and featured JG whom, since the premier of Alias, I have dubbed as the most over-hyped girl in Hollywood. Then I saw the trailer. To my surprise, warm and fuzzies grew inside me, and I'm rarely one for the warm and fuzzies.

13 Going on 30 follows the too-eager-to-grow-up Jenna Brink as she skips ahead in time to age 30 having a Capra/Dickenson like glimpse at her future self if she keeps on her current path. The message of this film is quite weird the more I think about it. You've gotten everything you ever wanted, now what's wrong? So the Be Careful What You Wish For "Monkey's Paw" metaphore is in place. But, I guess it also could represent the whole "place of woman" debate of today that says you can't have it all. You can be successful now thanks to the women of the 70's, but you will be a bad mom in the process. You must choose. Jenna has money, success, power, glamour, and a boy toy... what's she missing? That true love that early teenage years offer? Please, if someone gave me a chance to end up with my first love, I'd have to turn them down. Anyway, all the major news mags have been doing stories on women leaving high power positions to be housewives. Seems we've come full circle.

Back to the film. This film does exactly what it's supposed to: Make all those 25 to 30 year old girls remember their jelly shoes, hoop earings, spandex, scrunchies, and worship of Madonna. It makes every girl and gay guy in the world who wanted to fuck Mark Ruffulo (after watching In the Cut) now fall in love with him. It makes us once again think about wearing bright colors and tying ribbons in our hair. It mades us long for an old fashion sleep over. It made us add a little nostagia to our record collection, no matter how cheesy the music. It also gave my little sisters a glimse at life before they were around- my oldest little sis was born in 1989.

This is definately a girlie film. Please don't make your boyfriends, husbands, or brothers endure the amount of cuteness packed into the short time span.

SIDENOTE: The one thing I found very weak about both films was that I whole heartedly disagree with the "message moments". In GND, Hirsch's character delivers a speech on moral fiber. Regardless your take on pornography or American views of sexuality, this speech did not make me think anything besides "that's the best the writer could come up with?" I'm sorry, but "moral fiber" is not dedicating your life to something no matter what that something is... that's dedication, not morality. Hilter dedicated his life to erradicating the jews and others who were not of his ideal, Moral Fiber? I think not. In 13/30, Garner's character has to deliver a redesign concept to the editor and chief of her magazine (think 80's corporate take over plot here). She delivers an idea that has nothing to do with fashion. Granted, there is the moment earlier in the film where her mother says "those aren't women, those are models" in reference to the Cosmopolitan like mag as a weak commentary on feminie self image. Last time I check models were women. But Garner's answer would not sell a fashion magazine to me. Fashion isn't about "real women", Sears is. Fashion, high fasion, is about fantasy. It's about high style and glamour and self expression, not sensible shoes. In fact, to offer an idea so counter to the actual character in the film who was not a "real woman" but an ideal of childhood innocence, I thought was really bad and maybe irresponsible.

Okay, sidenote over.

I most likely will also revist Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the greatest film ever made, when it comes to dvd later this month.



At 12:54 PM, Blogger Darren said...

Funny, I just told someone the exact same thing: both films deliver what has become an all too typical scene in which the protagonist delivers a speech that absolutely sucks and then they are worshipped for it. These scenes can also lead to the whole "slow clap" thing made fun of in Not Another Teen Movie. I gave Girl Next Door a 6/10, also. However, I loved the film's first act as it struck me as being very real. Then the film becomes way too concerned with plot, and while the typically realiable Olyphant is great, his character ruins the movie. It is much worse for a film to start off great and lose lots of steam then for a film to start out bad and gain momentum (The Butterfly Effect, anyone?) Yeah, Elisha is very beautiful, but there's nothing going on there at all.

I think the message of 13GO30 is that you can be what you want, just don't let it compromise who you are. Jenna is loveable in the beginning, but desperately wants to fit in with the Six Chicks and changes who she is for that. Ere go: 2004 Jenna in the fantasy is where 1987 Jenna wants to end up, but not whom she wants to be.


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