If shtick were as rewarding as camp, then The Boy Next Door would be a classic. When hunky Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) helps unlikely high school classics teacher Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) with her stuck garage door, she should be tensing with euphoria. But she can’t even muster an ay bendito—not even a bead of sweat. If this were Nomi Malone, she’d tell Noah to cut the shit as soon as he handed her that first edition copy of The Iliad, then pelvic thrusted him back to the house he shares with his ailing uncle (who may also be Johnny Knoxville in bad-grandpa disguise). Instead, she invites him to dinner, over and over again, until he’s successfully ingratiated himself into both her life and her son’s vacant friend zone. When they do get around to bumping uglies, the camera regards Guzman’s buttocks and Lopez’s breasts with an evasion of visual pleasure that could be blamed on the actors’ nudity clauses if the entirety of The Boy Next Door didn’t resemble a Lifetime movie embarrassed to have found its way to theaters. Lopez’s marked lack of interest as she watches Guzman dial the crazy up from Subtle Punnery to Aggressive Graffiti (and beyond) speaks only to how dully the film flips the gender switch on Fatal Attraction and calls it a day. In the end, if there’s any glimpse of true insight here, it may be the film’s admission that it’s allergic to subversion from the start, presenting of all things an EpiPen as Chekhov’s gun.
- Universal Pictures
- 91 min
- Rob Cohen
- Barbara Cohen
- Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, John Corbett, Ian Nelson, Lexi Atkins
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