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Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Boy Next Door 2015 * 1/2 Stars

The Boy Next DoorDirector: Rob Cohen
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett

It's just weird seeing Jennifer Lopez staked out at the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes. She's never been nominated for anything, never been in a flick that could be deemed critically noteworthy, and hasn't won any kind of accolades pertaining to the world of acting. But there she is in a skimpy dress, hobnobbing with the likes of Meryl Streep, and avoiding various ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends (you just know that either Ben Affleck or P. Diddy is probably in the audience). After seeing her latest, faulty cadaver (2015's The Boy Next Door), someone should have told her to hightail it to another awards ceremony, the almighty Razzies (if you didn't already know, this is recognition of the worst in film).

Now from the opening hint of a teaser trailer to the obviousness of the camera panning down to J. Lo's famous tush, it's clear that she's parodying herself in the worst way here. It's like she's inviting her "Jenny from the Block" persona to a whole new level of surmised scrutinization. Anyway, Lopez wears enough lip gloss to power a small country in her role as Claire Peterson. In The Boy Next Door, Claire is a high school teacher, a responsible mother, and a woman who is separated from her cheating husband (John Corbett in the thankless role as Garrett Peterson). Claire lives with her son Kevin (played by Ian Nelson) and trades barbs with vice principal Vicky Lansing (the annoying, token girlfriend who doesn't have a life of her own and is played by Cameron Diaz look-alike, Kristin Chenoweth). From the beginning of "Boy Next Door", Claire discovers that she has two neighbors. They are a dying uncle and his nineteen year-old, great-nephew Noah Sandborn (played by Ryan Guzman). As the Lopez character begins to take Noah in, befriend him, and let the young buck hang out with her son, she actually partakes in bad judgement by having a brief romantic tryst with him (kind of like art imitating life, huh J. Lo). She then rejects his later advances causing Noah to make her life a living hell. He stalks her, harasses her, actually enrolls in her English class (he's obviously too old for high school, strange), and exhibits some seriously violent behavior. Meanwhile, Claire doesn't bother to go to the police and Noah's uncle is oblivious to his great-nephew's shenanigans (you'd think he'd know by now if the young punk had some psychotic tendencies).

The Boy Next Door as a movie, is artificially staunch. Rob Cohen directs and his results are nothing less than uninspired (look for a scene where some poor audio dubbing is used, who would have thunk it). He veers away from his more complex and flashy work with The Fast and the Furious to churning out bad camp that resembles something more along the lines of his 2000 vehicle, The Skulls. He wants to give his audience a modern day Fatal Attraction. Instead, he fashions ninety-one minutes without any sense of depth not to mention a laughable ending that has 2006's Swimfan written all over it (its been a long time since that dud's been mentioned). I mean, it's hard for me to figure out why this thing was even made. It's not based on a book, or a true story, or anything. I guess it was relegated on a concept from the mind of screenwriter Barbara Curry. Some concept. "Boy Next Door" is not entertainingly bad, it's just bad period. It takes about twenty minutes for antagonist Noah to go all habitual psycho and Guzman plays him by overacting blandly (I didn't think this was possible). You as the audience member, are supposed to fear his reluctant baby face but you just silently end up laughing at him.

Oh and what would a disposable January release be without some movie cliches. "Boy Next Door's" got em' like the adage where the cops show up late after all the killings and violent, physical confrontations have already occurred. And you gotta have the obligatory jump scares via a screeching cat plus a villain who just won't stay down (Noah gets hit over the head multiple times, stabbed in the eye, and kicked in the nards but just keeps a comin'). About forty-five minutes into "Boy Next Door", Noah fractures a bully's skull, gets expelled from high school, and yet Claire becomes reprimanded by the school's principal for grabbing his arms in the gymnasium (ah huh). If characters are manipulated by the mechanics in the script, then The Boy Next Door would resonate as the be-all end-all (the actor who plays Claire's son Kevin changes his personality on a dime but then again, he is a lost teenager).

In hindsight, you can tell that this is strictly a J. Lo marketed affair. She produced it, she stars in it, and it's catered to her aura (if you wanna call it that). She's not a horrible enchantress by any means but if she continues to churn out crud like this, she'll always be a bridesmaid, never a bride when it comes to actress recognition. Oh wait, she has been a bride three other times before but that's a whole different arena. Oops.

Of note: If you consider 2002's Enough to be intolerable (another J. Lowdown), then The Boy Next Door certainly won't do you any favors. You've been warned.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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