Blu-ray Review: The Boy Next Door

BoyBluSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Rob Cohen | CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Kristin Chenowith, Ian Nelson
RELEASE DATE: 4/28/15 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $34.98
BONUSES: director’s commentary, featurette, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 91 min. | Thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

The challenge in reviewing The Boy Next Door is in knowing what to say about it that hasn’t already been said. This movie isn’t good. It’s meant to be an erotic thriller but ends up being more humorous than hackles-raising—not in a knowing, send-up-of-the-genre kind of way, but more in a witless, roll-your-eyes fashion. I will say that Jennifer Lopez (U TurnThe Back-Up Plan) looks improbably hot in the naughty black lingerie that, y’know, all middle-aged classics professors lounge around in when the neighbor’s teenage kid happens to drop in late-night to discuss Ancient Greek epic poetry. So there’s that.

Classics teacher Jennifer Lopez is stalked by one of her students--after she goes to be with him--in The Boy Next Door.

Classics teacher Jennifer Lopez is stalked by one of her students–after she goes to be with him–in The Boy Next Door.

Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a high school Classics teacher who, although we never see her actually teaching, I think we’re supposed to infer is good at her job. But then there’s the already infamous scene where she gleefully accepts an “expensive” “first edition” of The Iliad from Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman, Step Up All In), her next-door neighbor’s visiting nephew. This tells me two things: First, that Claire isn’t seasoned enough as a high-school teacher to draw appropriate boundaries when it comes to accepting pricey gifts from teenage boys. And considering that The Iliad was originally transcribed in Greek several hundred years before the invention of movable type, her believing this clearly English-language bound version to be a “first edition” also tells me that she’s not especially knowledgeable when it comes to the subject she’s supposed to be teaching.

Not that it really matters, as Claire’s job is mostly just a pretext to throw her and the sexy, yet dangerously disturbed, Noah together at the precise moment in her life when—with much dewing of eyes and trembling of lips—she’s attempting to get over her husband’s recent infidelities. Playing the role of the husband whose moment of reckoning is about to come at the hands of his wife’s psychotic one-night-stand is John Corbett, looking just doughy enough to make Sex and the City fans shed a tear. Claire is struggling to forgive her husband, Garrett, for having cheated, and runs him through his atonement paces like a champ—all while trying to contain and conceal Noah’s increasingly obsessive and violent behavior. I like to imagine that there’s a scene sometime after the closing credits, when Corbett’s character wakes up in his hospital bed and—having been subjected to months of flagellation for his own garden-variety affair, only to be shot, stabbed, and set on fire by Claire’s Barely Legal teenaged paramour—he looks his wife in the eye and tenderly tells her to fuck right off.

In the thankless role of Claire’s best friend/boss/Greek Chorus is the woefully underused Kristen Chenoweth (You Again). Although perhaps it’s for the best that Chenoweth fans don’t get to see too much of her, as—bowing to the conventions of the genre—her character seems unlikely to make it to the closing credits anyway.

There are traces in here of the skeleton of the smarter, sexier movie The Boy Next Door was trying to be. Unfortunately, though, it falls smack-dab in the No Man’s Land of films that aren’t good enough to be good, but not awful enough to be good camp. If you haven’t already seen it, you don’t need to rush out and rent it—you’ve seen this one a million times already.

 

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About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).