Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Boy Next Door (2015) - Review


The Boy Next Door (2015) *
D: Rob Cohen
C: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth, John Corbett, Lexi Atkins, Hill Harper, Jack Wallace, Adam Hicks

Plot Synopsis: When a handsome, charming teenager named Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door, newly separated high-school teacher Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) encourages his friendship and engages in a little bit of harmless (or so she thinks) flirtation. Although Noah spends much of the time hanging out with Claire's son, the teen's attraction to her is palpable. One night, Claire gives in to temptation and lets Noah seduce her, but when she tries to end the relationship, he turns violent.

REVIEW: In The Boy Next Door, J Lo plays a teacher who has sex with a kid who eventually becomes her student and, finally, a raving psycho obsessed with her. First off, the film chickens out by making the title character 19, instead of 17 or even 16 years of age. I think a more interesting and compelling film would have addressed issues such as an adult being attracted to a minor, how and why an adult eventually slept with someone who's clearly too young to grasp the situation at hand, how this kind of scenario can result in a young person coming mentally unraveled and, finally, what happens when all is said and done.

Another mistake the film makes is
 painting J Lo's character as some kind of tragic figure. Her husband cheated on her. Her kid is pushing her to get back together with dad. She was seduced by the title character. She's being stalked. Everything that happens to J Lo's character is someone else's fault. A smarter film wouldn't have presented J Lo's character in such a flattering light and instead would have token a matter of fact approach to not only her character, but her degree of culpability as well. 

And finally, there's Ryan Guzman as The Boy Next Door. He's one of those impossibly good looking guys that looks they belong in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. He runs around half naked for most of the film, flexing his biceps and flashing his butt every once in a while. His performance is pretty awful, but (at least) it isn't a boring one.   

In the end, The Boy Next Door settles for being nothing more then a straight forward, generic ripoff of Fatal Attraction, but with none of the depth or nuance. What a shame too! The premise could have made for a thought provoking, controversial & daring film. Instead, the material is whitewashed in an attempt to offend no one. The final result, a film that feels artificial at every turn and a thriller that fails to thrill. [R] 91 mins.

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