REVIEW — “The Boy Next Door”
A mommy-porn thriller that seems as if it was written by a 15-year old with a cookie obsession.
There’s a subgenre of thrillers that puts a woman in grave peril which she must then single handedly overcome. Typically these films are meant to empower women, but more often than not, the plots reduce them to embarrassing stereotypes. “The Boy Next Door” is guilty of this to a nearly comical extent. First-time screenwriter Barbara Curry crafts a familiar tale, but crams it with so much chauvinism that we begin to wonder if it was meant to take place in the 60s. None of the characters act like real people, instead they are motivated only by the necessities of the plot. All the men over 18 are womanizers who are good at working on cars, but clueless in the kitchen. The women fill the caretaker rolls: teachers, good cooks, vulnerable. Even though we are supposed to believe they are strong independant women, they crumble against the harsh words of a 19 year old? The movie almost passes the Bechdel Test, but since the female characters only talk about men to each other, it disappoints there as well.
Ryan Guzman plays Noah, the title character, who moves into the house next to Claire (Jennifer Lopez) and her son. Claire kicked her husband out 9 months ago after learning he has been cheating on her with a woman that smells like cookies. Sexless for 9 months, in a moment of weakness, Claire has a one night stand with Noah. Although she says “No, Stop” nearly twenty times, apparently she doesn’t really mean it. Noah transforms from the perfect neighbor to a psychopath with such a jolt that the audience visible jumped. He quickly progresses from passive-aggressive comments about her “cookie” to criminal assault against minors. (A crime the police are strangely never called about.)
Mix in some other plot oddities, such as the boy who apparently has some strange form of Asthma that leads to anaphylactic shock, and it’s almost too much to bear. And yet, the movie isn’t a total loss. It’s fairly humorous, although not always intentionally. J-Lo is an expert in settling into her most flattering poses. The first half of the film likes to linger on cleavage shots, while the second half seems to favor her lower assets. A Lifetime Channel at it’s finest, seasoned with nudity, it’s really bad, but still not the worst choice you could make at the cinema this weekend.
2 out of 5 Stars