REVIEW: “The Boy Next Door”

boy poster

There is a moment in “The Boy Next Door” (albeit a brief one) where I asked myself “Could this actually be a good movie?” It’s early in the film and despite its visible cracks the movie appears to be laying some fairly entertaining groundwork. But it didn’t take long before I had the answer to my question. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was another silly, cliche-ridden, Lifetime caliber effort with seemingly no unique identity of its own.

Now some may disagree, but Jennifer Lopez is not a bad actress. You certainly wouldn’t know that by many of her movie choices. Why she attached herself to this film is beyond me. In it she plays Claire Peterson, a high school teacher who has recently separated from her cheating husband (John Corbett). She meets a teenager (going on 30) Noah Sandborn played by Ryan Guzman. He has just moved in next door with his disabled uncle following the death of his parents. Noah looks fresh out of a GQ shoot, flashes a million dollar smile, and knows how to fix a garage door opener. What a winning combination!

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Noah begins impressing Claire by befriending her 16-year old son Kevin (Ian Nelson). Noah helps Kevin talk to the ‘prettiest girl in school’ and deal with some obnoxious bullies (doesn’t that sound familiar). He teaches Kevin how to box and change out an alternator in a truck. How can Claire not like this guy? Of course we know where this is heading from the very first time they meet. Director Rob Cohen doesn’t allow us to wonder. Instead he bombards us with awkward smiles, googly eye contact,  and glaringly obvious perspective shots where his camera sits and lustily gazes. There isn’t an ounce of mystery.

The obvious happens and the two hook up. Afterwards Claire immediately knows she has made a mistake. The film portrays it as an act of vulnerability, but that’s really hard to buy into. The movie does a poor job of selling us a vulnerable Claire. After all, she is cutting eyes at this guy every time he walks into her house. Regardless, Claire tells Noah it was a mistake and (in an equally predictable turn) Noah suddenly turns from the perfect all-American guy to an obsessed raving lunatic. Of course clues to his instability suddenly pop up everywhere and soon Claire has a full-blown stalker situation on her hands.

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The script for this thing was written by a criminal lawyer named Barbara Curry. Her story was originally centered around Noah pulling Kevin away from his family and a determined mother fighting to get her son back. That idea offers a lot more potential than what we end up with. Instead we get an unoriginal stalker thriller that literally hits you with one overused cliché after another. The story gets wackier leading to an ending that flies completely off the rails and that leaves a number of loose ends when the credits roll that will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

“The Boy Next Door” is too unconsciously goofy to be taken seriously and it takes itself too seriously to be good campy fun. Lopez gives it a good go but you can only do so much with bad material. The story hasn’t an original  thought and it’s hard to buy into anything we see. Complicate that with a laughably bad ending with enough loose threads to knit a sweater. Perhaps some may find enough to qualify this as a guilty pleasure. Me, I just felt guilty.

VERDICT – 1.5 STARS

1.5 stars

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25 thoughts on “REVIEW: “The Boy Next Door”

  1. Y’know, I don’t hate J-Lo as an actress, I think she’s actually not terrible, which is surprising. That said, I’m not interested in this at all. “Noah looks fresh out of a GQ shoot, flashes a million dollar smile, and knows how to fix a garage door opener.” Heh, it’s usually too good to be true to have a hot neighbor like this who’s actually a nice guy, so yeah, if I see a guy like this living near me, I probably will steer clear, ahah.

    • Don’t waste a second on this Ruth. Such a sloppy and lazy ‘thriller’. And you’re right, those guys should come with their own flashing warning light. They are that obvious.

  2. J-Lo had some moments as an actress but that was a long time ago. Nowadays, she’s just…. meh… She peaked with Out of Sight and what has she done since then other than The Cell?

    • It is all of these crappy movie choices. I mean is it her talent or just no quality roles to choose from? I am amazed at what horrible movies she has been in.

      • I think she was a really good actress early on but ever since she became J-Lo, a lot of that promise she had from working with Gregory Nava, Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone, and Bob Rafelson just went away. Her attempts to do drama showcase not just limits in her range but also the fact that she really can’t do a lot. El Cantante was a prime example of her really going for that Oscar-bait role and man, that was one of the worst films I had ever seen and my parents who love salsa music hated the film and hated her performance.

  3. Great review. It’s 99% accurate. That 1% is why I love this film and you didn’t. I did indeed find it to be campy fun. From the very first minute, it was ridiculous as all get out, so I just rolled with the insanity.

    • Fair enough my friend. I usually love good campy nonsense. I just didn’t find it here. For me it just doesn’t succeed in being either a serious thriller or goofy camp.

  4. When I first was reading about this, I thought the concept was she makes this mistake and spends the movie dealing with the consequences of the mistake, but then I saw the trailer and figured I had seen the whole movie. But I was stupid cause that wasn’t enough. I still saw the damn thing. Sad I know.

  5. I agree with you all the way here. I often love these stalker movies for what they are, good fun. Even something like The Perfect Guy released later this year, and Swimfan of yesteryear were weak, but entertaining enough and didn’t take themselves all that seriously.

    This here? Ugh. Cohen peaked with Fast and Furious. Never felt why it J. Lo’s character made a big deal about her slip-up (he’s of age! Just admit it was a mistake and this would blow over-poor writing), and the stalker never feels truly unhinged like say Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me, Close in Fatal Attraction, Wahlberg in Fear, or even Erika Christensen in Swimfan. Disaster all-around. Even the cookie line couldn’t save it since it was blown in the trailer. Rant over. Great thoughts 🙂

  6. I wasn’t intrigued with this from the start. J-Lo isn’t a bad actress, she just takes on these easy cliche movies that are really not challenging (I’m thinking about The Back-Up Plan. I think I feel the same about this one. I’d watch it for Ryan Guzman’s hotness, except I can also see him in other movies like Step Up Revolution. Haha!

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