THE BOY NEXT DOOR
*1/2 (out of 5)
January 23, 2015
Jennifer Lopez as CLAIRE PETERSON
Ryan Guzman as NOAH SANDBORN
Ian Nelson as KEVIN PETERSON
John Corbett as GARRETT PETERSON
Kristin Chenoweth as VICKY LANSING
Directed by: Rob Cohen
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
When I first saw the trailers for “The Boy Next Door,” I simply rolled my eyes and dismissed it as potential January release garbage. After all, if you know anything about the general release schedule for movies, January is a dumping ground for films that can’t survive elsewhere. After all the holiday and award films make their way into the theaters, but before the early spring films show up, there’s this dead zone that happens right at the end of the month. It is often so bad that a trailer that boasts the line “This January!” usually means you’re in for a stinker.
However, as the release of “The Boy Next Door” neared, I started to warm up to it. Not because it would be a great film. Far from it. Instead, after seeing the trailer a couple more times, the ridiculousness of the set-up and delivery seemed so heavy-handed and silly that there was a part of me perversely anticipating seeing it.
Now that I have seen it, and I can assure you that regardless of the glee I felt watching this hot mess of a train wreck, it’s not a good film by any standard. But damn, if it isn’t entertaining… even if what makes it entertaining was entirely unintentional.
The story is a familiar one about an obsessed stalker. We’ve seen this before with movies like “Fatal Attraction,” “Single White Female” and “The Crush.” I suppose there’s a certain progressive feminism to this film since the story follows a woman who is being stalked by a younger man. However, this gender switcharoo doesn’t do anything to keep this movie from being bad… so bad… so bad, it’s almost good.
I wouldn’t say that “The Boy Next Door” is terrible throughout. In fact, the first 30 minutes are some of the most unintentionally hilarious 30 minutes I’ve seen in a long time. Between the awkwardly unnecessary dialogue, the soft-core porn set-up, the embarrassing appearance of John “I used to be the hot guy on Sex and the City” Corbett as Lopez’s estranged husband, the obvious underuse of foundation make-up on Kristin Chenoweth to make sure she’s not prettier than Lopez, the apparent reincarnation of Boris Karloff as the boy next door’s uncle, and the ridiculously heavy-handed title shot featuring wire-frame drawings of the two houses… right… next… door.
Sadly, this absurd genius does not keep up throughout the movie. Like many films, “The Boy Next Door” has severe second-act problems, though not in the same way you’re used to. In this movie, the problems come from the fact that director Rob Cohen tries to make a standard thriller, which just makes the film boring for about half of its running time. There are still a few moments, like when Noah (Ryan Guzman) gives Claire (Lopez) a “first printing” of Homer’s “The Iliad.” Never mind the fact that “The Iliad” was written in the 8th century B.C., more than a thousand years before bound books existed.
And then there’s the sex scene, which tries so desperately hard to be titillating… except for the fact that Lopez clearly doesn’t want to do on-screen nudity, so her privates and breasts are awkwardly obscured with Guzman’s grabby hands throughout like he’s trying to tune a radio.
Of course, the film does not disappoint with its insanity as things wrap up to the end and fly completely off the rails. Featuring inconsistent logic, Looney Tunes violence and the movie’s inability to follow its own plot points, “The Boy Next Door” leaves you with so many unanswered questions, not the least of which is why it would be so scandalous for Lopez’s character to have sex with a neighbor who is “almost 20” during the summer before he ever became her student. (Unless, of course, his “almost 20” line was similar to Roman Polanski’s understanding that Samantha Gailey was “almost 20, in like 83 months.”)
In the end, “The Boy Next Door” is a terrible movie, but the saving grace are moments that are so-bad-it’s-good. Unfortunately this doesn’t not linger through the whole film. Maybe a rewatch with a box of wine or some cheap liquor might be in order, but I wouldn’t waste theatrical prices to see this movie in its first run.