Ok, first of all, there’s no way on God’s green earth that Jennifer Lopez would let some psychotic neighbor turn her life into a living hell. She’d put that guy in his place in record time. But of course, this isn’t Jennifer Lopez. It’s Claire Peterson, the woman she plays in “The Boy Next Door.” But in my mind, she seems a lot like Jennifer Lopez so all I could think is, “This isn’t how Jennifer Lopez would act.”
Anyway, yes, Lopez plays high school literature teacher Claire Peterson, who’s been separated from her husband, Garrett (John Corbett), for the past nine months (and really? he cheated on Jennifer Lopez?). I guess they’re co-parenting ￼their son Kevin (Ian Nelson), but it’s clear that Garrett hasn’t been around much, ￼other than zooming up in his muscle car now and then to check in.
It doesn’t help that Claire’s friend and vice-principal at her school, Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth), reminds her that Garrett said in an email that the girl he was having the affair with smelled like chocolate chip cookies. Is that even possible?
Anyway, when a hunky young guy named Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door to care for his sick uncle, things seem fine at first. He helps Claire fix the garage door, does the dishes after they have dinner together, and quotes classic literature. In fact, he gives Claire a “first edition” of Homer’s “Iliad,” a book she’s teaching in her class that year.
Ok, let’s stop here for a second. When he gives the book to her, she says she can’t accept it because it’s too much, but he laughs it off, saying he found it at a yard sale for a buck. Really? Wouldn’t a first edition of the “Iliad” be an ancient Greek tome worth millions? And wouldn’t she know that, being a literature teacher and all? Ok, let’s move on.
When his uncle ends up in the hospital, Noah invites Claire over because Kevin and Garrett have gone off on a fishing trip for the weekend and of course, she can’t be left alone. But things suddenly turn steamy when Noah starts seducing her and before you know it, they’re horizontal. She knows it’s wrong and tells him the next morning. But he can’t let go and starts making her life miserable — stalking her, manipulating Kevin, and exhibiting homicidal tendencies when Garrett tries to reconcile with Claire.
The clincher is when Noah somehow rigs her classroom printer (or maybe it’s a fax machine?) to spit out hundreds of copies of a screenshot he took of a video he made of them making love. With her class waiting outside the door, she manages to grab all the copies and stuff them under her desk and into the trashcan in record time. Never mind that the kids might want to, you know, throw something away during class.
“The Boy Next Door” is full of lots of cringe-worthy moments you’ll love to hate, but everyone in this movie is so good looking, you probably won’t even notice. Seriously, you should go see it today. It’s quite entertaining.
Reel Rating: 3 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual content/nudity and language
Released in Theaters: Jan. 23, 2015
Best for Ages: 17+
Runtime: 91 minutes
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Studio: Universal Pictures
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Jane Boursaw is a well-known film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Images in this review used courtesy of Universal Pictures.