Critic’s rating: 3/5
Star cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson, and Kristin Chenoweth
Director: Rob Cohen
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Running time: 1 hour 31 mins
“No judgements, No rules, just us”
Story Scan: Jennifer Lopez is cast as Claire Peterson, a high-school teacher in San Fernando Valley who is newly separated from her philandering husband Garrett (John Corbett). Though you wouldn’t realise it from the runway-ready wardrobe and flawless make-up she wears while she is grading papers in her mini-mansion, Claire feels lost, lonely and neglected, with the age old struggle of raising her nobody of a teenage son, Kevin (Ian Nelson), alone.
The new addition arrives in the form of a hulking, pleasing and complementing Noah (Ryan Guzman), whose bulging biceps appear on the screen several seconds before his face is shown. Guzman plays a 19-year-old transplant from San Bernardino, who has just moved in next door to help in the care of his sick uncle, and in spite of some loosely described references to an “accident” that happened in his past, he succeeds in effortlessly wedging himself into Claire’s life over the course of the next five minutes, repairing the Garage door and fixing her car, hanging around for dinner and assisting Kevin in gaining the confidence to speak up to his neighbourhood crush. (Must be mentioned, adding to his expertise with auto repair, he is a skilled computer hacker and a trained kick boxer who can memory quote passages of “The Iliad”.)
When Kevin leaves for a weekend of camping vacation, the fateful occurs and Claire gets all hot and heavy with the uber attractive boy next door. No sooner has she attempted the walk of shame next morning, than Noah turns into an obsessive stalker, appearing unexpected at her house and somehow managing to get a seat in her high-school literature classes.
Movie Scan: Director Rob Cohen is an old hand at a product with a completely straightforward Genre, as he directs the “The Boy Next Door” starring Jennifer Lopez with the passionless precision of a film-maker who knows precisely what he wants. Doesn’t seem or sound like a recognizable Fatal Flaw, but frankly, injecting this silly, sleepwalking thriller script about a schoolteacher who falls for a psychotic teenager with some sort of brilliance, uniqueness or perversion, and even some kind of unforgettable clumsiness to liven up a rather well used storyline. Perhaps most fatally, the screenplay (by first-timer Barbara Curry) never bothers to question the nature of Noah’s madness, leaving the under-prepared “Step Up” veteran Guzman adrift in a pivotal role. It doesn’t help as he makes attempts at simpering, perturbing vindictiveness are less Norman Bates more Ace Ventura, adding to the fact that he’s clearly way older to some of the actors cast as his schoolmates, with precious little to go on.
“The Boy Next Door” seems decently polished, and Cohen stages one runaway car chase scene with the kind of kineticism that really suggests he’s aching for another go at the “Fast” franchise.
“Obsession has never been so close.”
Here is The Boy Next Door trailer: