I had no idea that Jennifer Lopez was still making movies. Despite my misgivings (I still haven’t fully recovered from Gigli) I have to say, The Boy Next Door wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was kind of a throwback to those psychological thrillers that were so popular in the 90s, like The Temp or The Hand the Rocks the Cradle.
Lopez stars as a newly divorced teacher named Clair Peterson. After sewing some wild oats and engaging in a one night stand with 19 year old Noah Sanborn (Ryan Guzman), Peterson’s life takes a turn for the worse. Turns out, Sanborn is bunny boiling nuts and proceeds to stalk and harass Peterson right up to a climactic and deadly confrontation.
Now that I think about it, this movie is a lot like Fatal Attraction, only with a bit of a role reversal. The one major problem I see with it is the way Noah just suddenly went from 0 to nuts at the speed of light. See, in Fatal Attraction, you could see there was some bad stuff coming from Glen Close’s character, from the way she set up meetings, to how immediately clingy and crazy she got.
With Noah, there is no warning. One minute, he’s the nice kid tending to his invalid grandfather. The next, he’s full on psychotic. There are no signs as to what was coming. I think if there had been a bit of build up, even some subtle signs that Noah was a bit nuts, it would have worked.
On top of that, Lopez’s character decisions make her a hard woman to sympathize with. Yes, I know Noah is allegedly 19 (though he doesn’t look like any 19-year-old I’ve ever seen) but he is in high school. The fact that a teacher in her 40s just happily jumps his bones is kind of disturbing and a little bit of me was saying ‘this chick had it coming’ when Noah starts to stalk her.
While this movie is getting thoroughly panned, I don’t think it’s quite that bad. In fact, I found it pretty stylish and thrilling. It had a few tense moments and I enjoyed it. As far as psycho factor goes, this movie was right up there with Fear.
I think the main problem is the lack of character development. It’s hard to see why Lopez’s character would risk everything to get naked with a dude half her age. It’s hard to see why Guzman’s character goes completely nuts out of nowhere. There should have been more buildup in order to make that relationship a bit more believable. After all, this kid seduces her in the first 20 minutes of the movie. I’m around Lopez’s age, and there is no way some high school kid is getting into my pants that quickly.
It’s not a terrible movie. It’s just the way the film moves so rapidly from relationship development to stalking isn’t realistic. If they’d drawn that part out a bit, this really could have been a Fatal Attraction. The problem is it didn’t really make it there. No character development made it harder to believe and a good movie could have been great with a bit more work.
WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!