Jennifer Lopez’s new movie, “The Boy Next Door,” is cheesier than a Chicago double topping deep dish pizza. From the profoundly absurd idea that anyone married to a woman who looks like Lopez would cheat on her to the teen-age Lothario who looks older than Lopez, this movie is the culmination of a cluster of idiotic ideas.
In a plot taken from half of the Lifetime or Hallmark cable channel movies, high school English teacher and part-time voyeur Claire Peterson (Lopez) is dealing with a pending divorce. Noah (Ryan Guzman), the hunky 19-year-old who moves in next door, wants to give her more than a shoulder on which to cry.
One night of passion escalates into full-blown stalking where Noah goes from suitor to sadist. All Claire knows how to do is sit around in skirts slit up to her thigh, drink wine and wonder whatever possessed her to sleep with a young man who she knew was about to become her student.
While she ponders that, the audience can think about all of the plot points that could have sidetracked this movie in a mercifully earlier time frame.
There’s a moral issue to what Claire does but technically it’s not illegal. This all could end with one confession.
Noah slaps a vice principal and cracks the skull of a fellow student but instead of jail time, he’s allowed to attempt a menacing showdown with school authorities. It’s like watching a prairie dog try to be scary.
Barbara Curry’s script starts out like a cable movie but near the end turns into a cheesy horror film presented with cheap special effects and absurd action moments. (Note to all stalkers: If you are in a barn where a car engine is hanging above you for no reason, get out.)
Some of the bad lines: Of her husband’s lover, Claire says, “He said she smells like chocolate chip cookies.” Who knew the Pillsbury Doughboy had a sister?
When Noah sees a fancy pair of shoes that were a gift to Claire, he tells her she doesn’t need them because she’s already sexy without them. That line wouldn’t get you a date at closing time in the cheapest of bars.
It didn’t help that this story about a one-night stand going bad has been such a popular premise for cable movies. There have been so many variations on the theme there’s nothing new to say. And “the Boy Next Door” is totally void of anything original.
Director Rob Cohen does little to help the asinine script with camera work that wobbles from handheld to stagnant. Most of time, the visuals are boring and stale.
This all might have been saved if Lopez and Guzman had even the slightest hint of chemistry or acting ability. Their love scene is mechanical and the only time Lopez looks scared is when she must have realized how much this film could hurt her career.
It would have helped if someone other than Lopez had been cast. This role needed to be played by someone less attractive. That would have made her vulnerability more realistic. And, it might have helped if Noah had been played by someone who didn’t look like he was old enough to have a kid in high school.
On second thought, nothing would help this movie. It is a perfect storm of a worn-out idea, shot with a lack of originality and played out by wooden actors. “The Boy Next Door” couldn’t be any worse if they tried.