It has been years since Jennifer Lopez had a hit movie, and The Boy Next Door will be another film in her long legacy of box office poison. Eighteen years ago, the Bronx native received a Golden Globe nomination for playing the title role inÂ Selena, but the acting chops she displayed in that iconic movie are nowhere to be found in her latest trio of films: The Back-Up Plan, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and now The Boy Next Door. The last one is a cheap, stupidly unoriginal thriller that even Lifetime would pass on … and we all know how much Lifetime loves a bad script.
Lopez stars as Claire Peterson, a lonely teacher going through a divorce. She becomes fascinated with a 19-year-old boy next door, Noah, played by Ryan Guzman (the actor is 27, just one of the many cinematic falsehoods audiences are expected to believe), a young man who will be a senior at her high school. In a weak moment, Claire has sex with Noah and, while the film starts at a low, it goes even further downhill with an awkward sex scene. In the theater where I saw the film, the audience howled with laughter seeing Guzman cup Lopez’s breasts and struggle to create chemistry. Like most of the film, this much-talked about sex scene was stiff and unrealistic.
Frame by frame, The Boy Next Door gets increasingly terrible with endless illogical scenarios. Claire is stalked by Noah, but for some reason she has no desire to call the cops. He breaks into her classroom and plasters naked photos of her on the walls (How did Noah break into a locked room? Does he have magical powers?), hacks her email (Noah is suddenly a computer genius?), tampers with the brakes on her husbandâ€™s car, assaults her in a bathroom and more. Thrillers need wit and logic to be suspenseful, directed by Rob Cohen and written by Barbara Curry, this flick lacks every element of a successful thriller.
The Boy Next Door’s supporting cast includes Broadway icon Kristin Chenoweth, who arguably has the best lines in the film…which isn’t saying much, andÂ Hill Harper with brief scenes as Lopez’s boss, the high school principal. Â Hopefully Guzman will get another chance in a leading role, he does possess an on screen glow. Â One redeeming quality is the diversity in the film, even if J.Lo continues to play racially-ambiguous roles, something an African-American actress would be blasted for on social media and beyond.
Overall, The Boy Next Door is even worse than J.Lo’s last album, which is a hard feat. The film, which was produced by Lopez, is full of bad ideas, from script to screen. However, with its modest four million dollar budget, it may likely turn a profit. Maybe the goal wasn’t to create a good movie after all. Either way, the strikingly beautiful Jennifer Lopez is already a star; hopefully in the future she will demand better material as a producer and actress.
The Boy Next Door is in theaters now.