‘The Boy Next Door’: What the Critics Are Saying

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Boy Next Door’ review: Jennifer Lopez’s studly neighbor turns out to be a psycho in this lazy riff on ‘Fatal Attraction’.

Her soon-to-be ex husband Garrett (John Corbet) is slowly trying to make things work, much to the chagrin of Claire’s best friend (Kristin Chenoweth) who can’t stand him, but to the delight of her son Kevin (Ian Nelson), who misses his dad. I don’t know if it’s in the cards, but you never know.” Jo-Lo also told the mag that raising a boy and girl had taught her something about relationships: “Guys just think differently!

At one point, before things go psychotically bad, studly Noah (Ryan Guzman, who you may recall, or not, from his roles in “Step Up Revolution” and “Step Up All In”) gifts her with a “first edition” of “The Iliad,” whatever that means. When the neighbor’s grandnephew Noah (Ryan Guzman), a surprisingly buff and mature looking nineteen-year-old, moves in he seems like a good role model for Kevin… at first. Noah’s charm offensive, which starts with the fact that he’s moved to town to care for his ailing uncle, includes volunteering as a masculine mentor to Claire’s teenaged son, who comes equipped with standard-issue adolescent awkwardness and an EpiPen. (Cough — Chekhov’s gun — cough). Because of that self-awareness, this terrible little film starring Jennifer Lopez as a literature teacher (heh!) who has drunken sex with her 19-year-old next door neighbor and is then stalked Glenn-Close-with-a-rabbit style by him might actually be the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in a year, Oscars season be damned.

Then one Labor Day weekend, with her son off camping, Claire succumbs to Noah’s ab-based charms, and when she regrets the encounter, he goes all Alex Forrest on her. Here’s the thing: While we have all delighted in staring agape at Lopez over this last decade as she has aged in reverse right before our eyes, the truth is that she hasn’t had many recent career successes in that time—especially on the big screen. Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. It’s been 15 years since she famously cemented her double-threat status as an actress and singer by being the first performer to have the number one film (The Wedding Planner) and album (J. The added complication, of course, is that Noah is a student at the school where Claire teaches, though the script makes it very clear early on that he’s over 18, so things aren’t too icky.

Apparently in “The Boy Next Door” no doesn’t mean no, it means “no judgment and no rules.” The next day Claire is filled with regret but Noah is more smitten than ever. Lopez has never been better than she was in “Selena,” “Out of Sight” and “The Cell.” Director Rob Cohen made “Dragonheart” and “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” 20-plus years ago, before descending to the depths of last year’s terrible “Alex Cross,” and now this mistake. The film is out of its mind, replete with jokes about Jennifer Lopez’s “cookies,” a sex scene so long and confusingly choreographed that I became both aroused and intensely curious while watching it, a hyper-violent final act rivaling the most demented of Final Destination sequences, Kristin Chenoweth with a sassy pixie cut doling out wry one-liners, and a line-reading of the words “J.K. Just as there is value in soaking in the artistic merits of whatever three-hour historical drama Harvey Weinstein is assaulting award season with, there is value in having fun at the movies. (Hey, it’s called entertainment. The lowdown: In this gender-swapped, lazily made take on “Fatal Attraction,” a high school teacher (Jennifer Lopez) has a one-night stand with her much younger neighbor, only to come to regret it when he goes psycho.

The rise of franchises and brand names as the true stars of films certainly speaks to that, as does the depreciation in value of marquee talent like Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and the like. But the film flips the script by turning the dude into the sociopathic stalker—the deranged archetype who becomes hooked on a paramour after one quick tryst. And while the film’s epic sex scene provides ample glimpses at Lopez’s famous derriere to gaze at, it’s her co-star, Guzman, who is offered up on an over-sexualized platter, whose body is exploited in unnecessary (and thoroughly enjoyable) skin-baring scenes throughout the movie. Lopez’s appearance on Ellen this week, in which she addressed rumors that she’s dating 27-year-old Guzman (she’s not) and whether that would make her a “cougar” (it wouldn’t). “I hate that they have a label for a woman who would date a younger guy. But what’s the name for an older guy who’s after younger girls?” Lopez said. “I’m not after younger guys; if younger guys like me, that’s one thing, but guys who just go after younger women—they have no label!

Just on board with Jennifer Lopez, in general, because as she’s proven time and again over the past few decades (it’s been that long!) she is a force of nature with an indomitable will and, clearly, no qualms about taking risks if it means her career could benefit from it.

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