There are movies that are bad and there are movies that are so bad they are great. From the trailer of “The Boy Next Door” I had a feeling this movie would fall into the latter category. Whenever I go see a movie I try to leave all preconceived notions at the door and judge it on its own merits. Honestly though “The Boy Next Door” isn’t bad enough. This movies tethers along the lines of so bad it good, but there aren’t enough bad lines of dialogue or mistakes behind the camera for it to fall in that category. Instead “The Boy Next Door” is just bad, painful and forgettable. At least if the movie was a little worse we would have another guilty pleasure on our hands but it couldn’t even achieve that.
“The Boy Next Door” follows a mother named Claire Peterson (played by Jennifer Lopez) on the brink of her divorce. Separated from her husband and raising her son on her own, a young man named Noah Sandborn (played by Ryan Guzman) recently moves into the house next door to her. This 20 year old never finished high school but has got perfect abs, can fix cars, and (get this) he quotes and recites classic literature! Plus now he has enrolled in the school that Claire teaches at. Feeling vulnerable and lonely, she gives into her desires to Noah in a one night affair with the young man after a date gone wrong. Realizing she made a mistake Claire tries to break any sort of romantic relationship off with Noah and tries to make amends with her husband. Feeling rejected and cast away, Noah begins to lose his mind and turn violent.
I could maybe buy this premise if the movie didn’t turn into a stalker feature. To pull off a stalker feature correctly you have to have a good actor and a good director but this didn’t have either. Perhaps if this movie was some sort of dopey heart throb romance of Jennifer Lopez’s character trying to figure out her feelings for Noah and her separated husband this could have be only slightly more bearable. For the first third of the movie that’s exactly what it is. I mean a poorly shot, and edited romance movie, but the setup was a bit more bearable then when it switched to a stalker movie. But, I digress.
I know the movie was advertised as a stalker movie but the first third of the movie doesn’t set up for that. Noah doesn’t seem out of the ordinary nor is there some atmospheric tension to the film letting the audience know something is “off.” Then when Claire says no to Noah all of a sudden, out of nowhere he snaps and is a creeper? Had there been some subtle hints towards that then it could have worked but the director nor the actor did that.
Of course I am reading too much into this! This isn’t trying to be some sort modern intricate physiological thriller, this was meant to entertain from the very beginning. Stripping the substance from my head and viewing this as pure trashy entertainment is it any better? Not in the slightest. I feel that trashy entertainment should know it’s trashy entertainment. “The Boy Next Door” takes itself way too seriously. There are moments here and there where a little part in me got excited when I started hearing lines of dialogue like, “I love your mother’s cookies”, because I thought they were going to embrace the horrendous nature and give us some fun in guilty pleasure entertainment. Who doesn’t love a movie that is so bad it’s good? This movie doesn’t know it’s bad and that’s where the trouble stems from.
Jennifer Lopez is about the only good thing about this movie. She actually is a somewhat decent actress and gives a solid performance in this movie despite all the ugliness around her. I’m not saying she is great, more so serviceable. The rest of the cast…not so much. Director Rob Cohan fails to deliver yet again. I never root for a movie to be bad but this is a case where the movie should have recognized it was bad and at least have some fun with it; could have had a cult following with some great laughs….unintentional laughs that is.