Directed by Luke Greenfield, starring Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano and James Remar.

A former porn star moves in next door - it's the stuff of many a male (adolescent) fantasy and Luke Greenfield's 'The Girl Next Door' plays this up to the hilt. But the film's split personality, both glorifying and condemning the porn industry, makes for an uneasy match.

Emile Hirsch plays Matthew, a geeky straight 'A' high school student who can't believe his luck when he catches the eye of his neighbour, the gorgeous Danielle (Cuthbert). Transformed by her interest in him - new walk, new confidence, hair swept back into a cooler style - he's the king of the hill, until his adult movie-obsessed friend Eli (Marquette) points out that she has an alter ego as porn star Atlanta. As Matthew tries to sort out what he feels for Danielle, her old life catches up with her when former boyfriend and porn producer Kelly (Olyphant) re-enters her life.

Although it starts strongly, with some funny set pieces, this awkward blend of prurience and cutesy teen romance runs out of steam long before it finishes. Elisha Cuthbert, Kiefer Sutherland's daughter in '24', makes a good job of her sexy, lip-glossed role but ultimately Danielle has little more character than a blow-up doll. Emile Hirsch has the right balance of innocence and angst to make a decent initial impression. By the film's end, however, any empathy the audience may have had with him has been lost in a queasiness about the presence of the porn industry in the plot. Timothy Olyphant has the most fun as a straightforward sleezebag, very charming and completely psychotic, while Chris Marquette's hormone-raging Eli gets all the best lines.

By trying to shoe-horn any number of twists into the plot in the second half of the film, Luke Greenfield lets himself and his capable cast down, turning an entertaining film into something which leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

Caroline Hennessy