There’s no particular intellectual value here, the film is a slim ninety-one minutes long, but it’s just enough to satisfy you on a momentary level.

by Steve Pulaski

Rob Cohen’s The Boy Next Door gets immediate points from me for taking its steamy, sultry premise to its greatest potential in terms of how much it wanted/needed to show. It’s almost embarrassing how easy Cohen and writer Barbara Curry could’ve made The Boy Next Door a ridiculously underwritten, PG-13 affair, exploiting none of the film’s inherent sexual themes and vengeful occurrences to the fullest. The film isn’t necessarily a hard R-rated film, but it goes further than one expects, in both the sexual and the revenge departments, making for an experience that is, at the very least, consistently entertaining and moving.

While by no means a very good film, sorely lacking in the areas of acting and successfully making the final act overwrought and silly, The Boy Next Door moves and never really bores. I sat with a cheeky grin on my face for most of the film, casually whispering snide remarks to myself and rolling my eyes at the inanity of the film’s circumstances. While I highly-doubt that was the intended result, the film provoked a positive reaction in me in some sense; it’s the kind of mediocre film I emerge from relatively unharmed and dismiss it about as quickly as general audiences will undoubtedly dismiss it.

The Boy Next Door
Directed by
Rob Cohen
Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth
Release Date
23 January 2015
Steve’s Grade: C-

The film revolves around Jennifer Lopez’s Claire Peterson, who is still finding her footing after she catches her husband (John Corbett) cheating with one of his office secretaries, and is loosely trying to patch things up with him along with raising her teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson). One day, Claire gets a new next door neighbor by the name of Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman), who is living with his grandfather to assist with him in his older age. Noah’s parents both died when he was younger, and he comes to Claire’s quiet, suburban neighborhood looking to complete high school and start a successful life.

It’s no secret that the second Claire and Noah meet, both are attracted to one another on an entirely physical level. It results in predominately casual flirting, with Noah toying with Claire’s, an English-Literature major, love for Homer’s “Iliad” and her love for classic literature, which leads to Noah seducing Claire one night when Kevin is away. What Claire sees as a true mistake, which resulted from her being vulnerable and impulsive, Noah sees it as a building block of true passion and love, and gets abusive and vindictive when he recognizes Claire doesn’t see it that way. We then see Noah find ways to make Claire’s life a living hell, blackmailing her videos and photos of the one night stand and dangerously close calls in front of people like Kevin and her husband.

Lopez is still in a strange phase of acting, where she provides lines with the most obvious kind of delivery that it just about takes you out of the entire experience. Meanwhile, Guzman, who is tasked with a character that goes from humbly charming to thoroughly contemptible, seems to be going for a James Franco-esque performance in terms of look and acting style, pulling a classic bait-and-switch character. He’s easily the strongest performer here, believably transcending the bounds of sanity to give us a character that we detest but are at least halfway compelled to watch.

Curry’s line of events in the film are foreseeable, but nonetheless, entertaining on a guilty level. The sex scene, while a hair more explicit than one would’ve thought, still doesn’t exploit the potential power of the scene for half its worth, but some of the revenge scenes, particularly the ones that occur in the classroom and school, carry a certain heaviness and suspense to them that wouldn’t have been possible in a film with a more restrictive rating. Cohen directs the film in a way that follows the typical tropes of a thriller, but never in a particularly negative way. The most negative element of the aesthetic has to be Michael Aller’s editing, which can occasionally make the project choppy and indiscernible.

The Boy Next Door is the equivalent of the kind of fast-food film that the month of January is largely known for; there’s no particular intellectual value here, the film is a slim ninety-one minutes long, but it’s just enough to satisfy you on a momentary level that makes the car-ride home from the multiplex not such a regretful experience. It isn’t until that you get home that you realize that very little of your moviegoing senses were tingled or satisfied during your experience. But, like fast-food, it was colorful and entertaining while it lasted.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out another INFLUX Review here.