The Boy Next Door

Directed by:  Rob Cohen

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Kristen Chenoweth, and Ian Nelson

I may be a lone voice, but I actually enjoyed The Boy Next Door.  Before you start hurling rotten tomatoes at my head in the “Comments” section, let me explain myself.  I went into The Boy Next Door with low expectations. From the film’s trailer, it seemed reminiscent of Jennifer Lopez’s Enough.  I was concerned that this would come across as a movie that could have simply aired on the Lifetime channel on a Sunday night.  I was pleasantly surprised that the movie had a little more edge and humor than anticipated.

Claire Peterson (Lopez) is a suburban mom and high school teacher.  She is going through difficult times as she has just separated from her husband Garrett (John Corbett) after 18 years.  Garrett cheated on Claire with his secretary.  However, he regrets his actions and wants to reunite with Claire, and rebuild the family for their teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson).  Claire is tempted, but is leery of opening herself up, and she fears she will never trust Garrett again.  Her best friend Vicky (Kristen Chenoweth) warns her against reuniting with Garrett and tries to push her back on the market.

Right before school starts, the “almost twenty year-old” Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door to Claire and Kevin to take care of his sick uncle.  Noah just lost his parents and his uncle is the only family he has left.  At first blush, Noah appears to be a nice young man.  He is incredibly attractive; he takes care of his sickly uncle; he helps fix things around the house and he immediately bonds with Claire’s nerdy teenage son.  One weekend while Kevin is out of town with his dad, Noah convinces Claire to come over to his house.  A vulnerable Claire throws caution to the wind and sleeps with Noah. 

The next morning, Claire is filled with remorse and explains to Noah that it can never happen again.  Noah has other plans.  He believes they are meant to be together.  He begins to stalk her, showing up at her house, hacking into her computer and enrolling in her literature class.  Claire soon learns that the boy next door is more dangerous that she could have imagined.

The Boy Next Door was surprisingly enjoyable.  It does not require intense dissection.  It is certainly not Oscar material, nor is it a film that you have to rush out and see.  However, if you know what you are getting when you go in, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  The film has action, passion and some occasionally sharp dialogue.  Chenoweth, in particular, plays a character with an acidic, but humorous wit. In addition, The Boy Next Door has some pretty steamy sex scenes, and earns its “R” rating.  (For those of you waiting for Fifty Shades of Grey, this would be a good warm up).  Lopez and Guzman have great chemistry.  Guzman is mature enough so one does not think of Mary Kay Letourneau when seeing Lopez and Guzman together; and Lopez is not exactly your typical schoolmarm.  Their connection and hookup is completely believable.  The film is also unintentionally funny in some areas that presumably were meant to be serious. 

With all of that being said, The Boy Next Door, is fairly predictable.  There are a few surprises, but generally the film follows fairly close to the trailer and every other “lover turned psychopath” thriller.  Moreover, I found Ian Nelson’s character to be too gullible and needy.  Nelson plays Kevin, the son of Lopez’s character.  In an effort to expedite the narrative and bring the stalker into Claire’s life more rapidly, Kevin immediately and desperately clings to Noah.  Even a lonely nerd does not move that quickly. Director Rob Cohen could have done a better job of weaving the psychopath into Claire’s life more gradually.

The Boy Next Door earns a 0.06% rating.  Have a nice Chardonnay with this guilty pleasure.