John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Boy Next Door Poster

The Boy Next Door

Genre: Thriller

Director: Rob Cohen

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: January 23rd, 2015

If there is a victim whose reputation has been tarnished by The Boy Next Door, approved it will not be Jennifer Lopez, who stars in and produces the film. Nor will it be audience members who go in hoping for a thrilling time and leave shocked and appalled by how bad this feature is.

If there is one real victim of this movie, it’s Homer, the epic poet responsible for writing The Iliad and The Odyssey. It’s true that Homer died thousands of years ago but his legacy lives on today and in twenty or thirty or a hundred years, a graduate student will be looking up films that reference his work and they, being morbidly curious, will— in their research of one of the greatest poets in history— sit down and watch this movie. They will not be pleased.

Homer unfortunately plays a major role in this drama about a frustrated wife and mother Claire (Jennifer Lopez), who marriage to cheating husband Garrett (John Corbett) lies in turmoil. Kevin (Ian Nelson), their naïve son, wants his parents to fully re-commit to their relationship but entering the story from stage right is Noah (Ryan Guzman), the family’s new neighbor.

Noah can fix cars, take care of his ailing uncle (who appears and disappears whenever it’s convenient), and can quote Homer at length. Claire is an English teacher who loves Homer’s poems and is quickly charmed by Noah and the positive influence that Noah has on her son.

“Dude, you gotta read The Iliad,” Noah says to Kevin in one of the feature’s most bro-tastic moments of bonding. It was surprising that Noah didn’t follow up that statement with “Yo man, that book’s off the hook.”

Inevitably, Claire and Noah sleep together (it turns out that discussing Homer is an aphrodisiac) but then Noah goes crazy revealing that when he’s not reading classic literature in his quiet bedroom, he’s making sex tapes and murdering people. Oh well. Once the duo sleep together, Noah starts stalking Claire and undermining her marriage and her relationship with her son. [Lesson: Sharing a mutual love of Homer is not enough to build a strong relationship.]

If you’ve seen movies like Single White Female, Fatal Attraction, Disturbia, The Stepfather, The Roommate or well, if you’ve seen a movie about a seemingly nice person going crazy, you’ve seen this movie. The only thing new here is how ludicrous this feature is compared to other similar films. Some of the movies listed above aim for a resemblance to reality.

The Boy Next Door doesn’t.

Characters appear and disappear just for purposes of the story (Noah’s uncle, for instance). Claire is nearly raped in a flooding bathroom at a school function and no one sees or hears anything (there’s even spray paint on the walls that mysteriously disappears before others see the bathroom). Better yet, Claire tries to erase a sex tape from a computer that may or may or not have the only copy. She oddly believes that Noah isn’t smart enough to e-mail the sex tape to anyone.

Gosh, this movie is awful. The script just seems to be a mix of cheesy parts of other films and the cast is a random mixture of actors and actresses thrown together as some sort of cinematic experiment. Lopez, of course, is coming from her stint as an American Idol judge. Guzman comes from one of the Step Up movies. Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth, who is in this movie for some odd reason, was once on the West Wing but may now be better known for her work on Glee. Nelson once played Tribute Boy District 3 in the Hunger Games. I’m sure that was a tiny role but it was probably better than the cardboard one he had here.

Everyone in this production deserved better and so did Homer. If two characters are going to bond over a book in a terrible film, can’t the book be 50 Shades of Grey or something?

Review by: John Hanlon