The Boy Next Door Review

The Boy Next Door

I will be blunt: the following film led me to questioning the fundamental stability of the US film industry, and basically, how some films ever get made.

I had a discussion with an American friend of mine about studios contractually obliging stars to complete a certain quota of films, and the stars in turn churning out lacklustre films as a cheaper alternative to breaking contract.

My friend informed me those days were all but gone, which left me confused by the very existence of new suburban-stalker thriller The Boy Next Door.

The film was, after all, co-produced by headlining star Jennifer Lopez. Now, J-Lo admittedly hasn’t saturated our screens of late but you do have to wonder what she hoped to gain from this venture.

Here, she plays Claire Peterson, the kind of hot-mom fantasy figure that Fountains of Wayne used to sing about.

She lives with her teenage son Kevin, hangs out with her comic-relief best friend Vicky and occasionally shares a tense cup of coffee with estranged husband Garret.

Kevin is a standard teen-geek. He is picked on by some of the uncoolest school bullies ever to grace the big screen, and is beset by various allergies which crop up when the plot demands.

One fine day, Claire is introduced to the biceps of new-boy-next-door Noah (Ryan Guzman). He is your archetypal square-jawed, washboard-abbed, car-fixing type who looks like he wandered in from a Diet Coke ad.

He also improbably happens to love Classics, which surprise-surprise, Claire just happens to teach.

Noah’s attraction to Claire is instant and he uses his friendship with Kevin to get closer. At one point, his wooing attempts include buying Claire a first-edition copy of Homer’s Iliad. Get your head around that one.

Claire doesn’t exactly rebuff Noah’s advances and, before you know it, the two enjoy an uncooked chicken, some glasses of vino, and a steamy one-night stand.

Claire is immediately regretful and tells Noah it was all a mistake. And that’s when Noah goes more than a bit bunny-boiler on her.

The Boy Next Door hits all the expected notes of this type of thriller and, at a lean running time of ninety-one minutes, it does so at quite a pace. There’s not even time for an epilogue, though that may have been a good thing.

J-Lo is pretty poor as Claire and Guzman is over-the-top as Noah. Only John Corbett retains some level of dignity as hubby Garrett. And he plays a love rat.

True, the film has its hilarious moments, but sadly the majority of which are unintentional. Suffice to say, if you treated it as a drinking game and downed a shot for every cliché, you would frankly be hammered by the closing credits.

Surely more could have been expected from Lopez, who can impress when she wants to, and Rob Cohen, who has helmed a few big pictures in his time.

Some may view this was a harmless and guilty pleasure, but, for me, the film gamely leapfrogs the so-bad-it’s-good marker and lands squarely in ‘Bad’ territory.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2015