Sponsor

New Release Review - The Boy Next Door

A teacher's life is threatened after she sleeps with a pupil.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Rob Cohen

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, John Corbett



The Boy Next Door is the sort of B-thriller that once filled the bottom shelves of video stores, but thanks to the presence of Jennifer Lopez, it's instead playing on cinema screens across the world. While Lopez' music career soars, her stock as an actor continues to plummet. Even for J-Lo, this is a new low.
Here, Jenny from the block is Claire, a high school English teacher trying to rebuild her family life after kicking hubby Garrett (Corbett) out of the house for sleeping with a younger woman. Life is hard for poor Claire. With no man in her life, she can't even lift the garage door, but thankfully a pair of biceps come to her rescue. The biceps belong to Noah, a high school senior who just moved next door with his geriatric uncle. He's also got fantastic teeth; Noah's teeth are so pearly white, African poachers would hunt him for the ivory. Pretty soon Claire is salivating over her young neighbour's six pack and one night, after imbibing a bit too much bubbly, she ends up in a heated session of statutory rape. Waking up with a hangover and the worry of potential jail time, Claire wants to forget the incident, but young Noah is determined to keep the relationship alive at any cost.
There are several obstacles that prevent us from taking The Boy Next Door seriously, not least its casting. Guzman is the maturest high schooler since John and Olivia in Grease, while Lopez hasn't aged a day in the last two decades. Given Lopez' real life proclivity for toy boys, nothing seems particularly odd about this couple. As such, we're forced to remind ourselves that we're watching a tale of an adult having sex with a minor, something the filmmakers themselves don't seem to grasp, asking us to sympathise with a statutory rapist. Before committing the deed that threatens to tear her world apart, Claire spies on her underage neighbour as he undresses. If this isn't a problem for you, reverse the gender roles and see whose side you take.
In the hands of Rob Cohen, director of such classics as The Fast and Furious, XXX and Stealth, this dark material is glossed over in superficial fashion. What could have been an intriguing and incendiary twist on Fatal Attraction is rendered a snoozefest by Barbara Curry's derivative script and Cohen's phoned in direction.
The one positive I took from The Boy Next Door is that it at least can boast an honest title. The boy in question does indeed live next door, unlike the geographical inaccuracies of Last House on the Left and House at the End of the Street. Sorry straw; didn't mean to grasp you so tightly.




discussion by