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|The Boy Next Door
dir Rob Cohen
scr Barbara Curry
prd Jennifer Lopez, Jason Blum, John Jacobs, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina
with Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett, Kristin Chenoweth, Lexi Atkins, Hill Harper, Jack Wallace, Adam Hicks, Francois Chau, Bailey Chase, Kent Avenido
release US 23.Jan.15, UK 27.Feb.15
15/US Universal 1h31
Beauty and the beast: Lopez and Guzman
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
An overwrought emotional tone makes this trashy thriller a lot more fun than it has any right to be. Relentlessly cheesy, there isn't a convincing moment in the whole movie, but the actors play it like their lives depend on it. And the histrionic plot is like Fatal Attraction on crack.
High school teacher Claire (Lopez) is raising her teen son Kevin (Nelson) on her own after her husband Garrett (Corbett) left. Then he meets Noah (Guzman), the beefy 19-year-old orphaned nephew of her invalid neighbour (Wallace). As Noah helps Kevin stand up to the school bullies and get up the nerve to talk to the hottie Allie (Atkins), he also begins to flirt shamelessly with Claire. She tries to resist, but maybe a fling with a young stud is just what she needs. Noah on the other hand, thinks their love should last forever.
Director Cohen shoots this in the slick, anonymous style of a cheesy B-movie with delusions of grandeur. The camera prowls relentlessly around the toned tanned bodies of both Lopez and Guzman, stirring her guilt and his passion into a toxic concoction. Then as the movie shifts from a sudsy forbidden-love romance into a scary stalker thriller, the filmmakers continue pile on the innuendo. Claire talks about reuniting with Garrett, so Noah takes Kevin out for a bit of shooting practice.
Wearing more lipgloss than you'd think was humanly possible, Lopez has a ball as the horned-up Claire, spying on the naked Noah while wearing lingerie and high heels, then turning pouty and terrified in the fiercest possible way. As always, Guzman has remarkable physical presence but little actual personality, especially when Noah needs to reveal his darker true colours. Corbett and Nelson are solid in even less detailed roles. And Chenoweth adds some needed spark as Claire's requisite sarcastic best friend.
This is one of those astoundingly thin films that plays up every suggestion of something nefarious while wallowing in its tepid sexuality and excessive violence. Thankfully, it's all played with a smirk, which makes it gleefully entertaining in ways we really don't want to admit. As the bunny-boiling progresses, the film get so laughably bonkers that it becomes impossible to imagine that anyone involved was taking this seriously. Because we certainly can't.
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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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