This ‘Boy Next Door’ looks familiar
The Boy Next Door is the story of an unhappily married woman who succumbs to a suitor young enough to be her son. Can you guess what happens next? Probably.
Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Robinson, an unrealistically hot high school English teacher in an unidentified California suburb. After nine months of separation from her cheating husband (John Corbett) and a failed attempt at re-entering the dating scene, Claire falls prey to the advances of 19 year old stud Noah (Ryan Guzman) who recently moved next door to help his sick, elderly great uncle.
Claire immediately tries to put their steamy romp in the past but Noah refuses to let go of his infatuation with – wait for it – “Mrs. Robinson”. As you’ve probably already guessed, she continues to dodge his sexually harassing behavior but things go from zero to one hundred real quick as Noah stalks Claire and devises a plan to take down her marriage, impressionable teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson) and career.
The Boy Next Door may as well have been called Fatal Attraction (2015). The beginning half of the story has only a few alterations from the 1987 classic and the remaining scenes are borrowed from similar films such Fear and Swimfan.
Its biggest downfall is a script that approaches Tyler Perry levels within the first 10 minutes. Claire shares too much too soon which Noah eventually uses against her and the characters and their lines are things we are already accustomed to seeing in drama. If this isn’t Tyler Perry influenced enough for you, the adulterers are even a few shades darker than the “good guys” of the film.
Building suspense is difficult when we already know where the story is going but the acting and directing manage to keep you captivated. Where the script falls flat in keeping you guessing, Guzman does a great job of picking up the slack. At times you know where the story will go, then begin to question your instincts, but the scene drags on so long you assure yourself you were right from the start. Somehow, even though its clear what comes next, Guzman still manages to make you jump out of your seat.
If you feel Lopez routinely abandons her “Urban Latina” identity when she stars in films you are in for a bit of a shock. Lopez spends the entire movie convincingly as the helpless white – possibly Jewish? – female victim with no common sense until the final scene where she proves if forced to fight for her life she is indeed still Jenny from the block.
To anyone who has ever seen a psychological thriller, The Boy Next Door is nothing new. You can predict each scene and the final outcome but the actors make this story worth watching for the millionth time.