The erotic thriller casts Jennifer Lopez as a teacher whose fling with a much younger neighbor takes a disastrous turn. The film itself takes one calamitous turn after another, until the eye-rolling moments congeal for our bemusement.
Is this the dawn of a so-bad-its-hilarious classic? Not quite, but it gets an A for effort.
Lopez stars as Claire, an English lit teacher with a hankering for the “classics.” She’s also estranged from her cheating husband (John Corbett, who deserves an Oscar for looking so at ease in this clunky material).
Enter Noah (Ryan Guzman), the buff boy next door whose passion for Homer is catnip to Claire. So are his abs.
Before you can say fatal attraction the two are making sweaty love like the best P90X infomercial you’ve never seen. It’s so good Noah becomes obsessed with Claire, who would rather forget the whole canoodling happened and mend fences with her husband.
Not so fast. Noah is suddenly serial killer crazy, and he thinks Claire is the love of his life … assuming he won’t end it by the final reel.
At first, movie goers will busy themselves with the popular “Count the clichés!” game. The hubby ran off with the secretary? The guilt stricken ex is plying his teen son with gifts to curry his favor? Claire ogles Noah from her window, like a remake of that infamous Diet Coke commercial?
It doesn’t take long before even the least demanding audiences start staring at their watch. Audiences may not demand logic or credibility in a movie like this. But when our heroine acts as if that lovemaking session sapped every last brain cell it’s hard not to regret that ticket price.
“The Boy Next Door” isn’t dull in the technical sense. Watching Lopez look stunning while playing the pencil-pushing professor type has its appeal. The lack of gravitas eventually takes its toll, and we almost wish the film went the full “Showgirls.” Or “Gigli.” Or “Troll 2.”
Guzman is sorta perfect for the part, a physical specimen with the charisma the character demands. It’s not his fault he’s responsible for such a loopy villain, or that the script insists no one call the authorities in order to set up the final act.
And, for the record, Lopez should never use the word “schmutz” again on screen.
Director Rob Cohen, often a snug fit for unfairly maligned genre fare (see “Stealth”) isn’t even trying here. There’s one scene with a tight close up of Noah, and then the camera slowly pulls back so we can see what he’s been up to. It’s supposed to be a big jump moment, or at least the biggest until Cohen reverts to cliché form and gives us a random cat scare.
Yet the payoff is next to nil.
“The Boy Next Door’s” tag line, “A Moment She Couldn’t Resist. An Obsession He Can’t Control” sounds more like a new perfume pitch than an edge of your seat thriller.
It does make sense on a certain level. The movie does have a certain scent about it.
DID YOU KNOW: “The Boy Next Door” star Ryan Guzman was a professional fighter who studied martial arts before his screen debut in 2012’s “Step Up Revolution.”