There’s a movie category unofficially known as “So bad it’s good.” “Showgirls” (1995) would be a good example of that. Such movies tend to become cult classics. “Showgirls” was an instant cult classic. The reason for that is probably because, while one of the lead actresses Cannot. Act. To. Save. Her. Life—she’s in, er, very good shape.
There’s also the unofficial category of “So bad it’s amazing.” And there’s “funny-haha,” and there’s “funny-strange,” but the complete waste of two hours that is “The Boy Next Door” would probably fall into the category of “funny-just-shoot-me-now.”
So there’s this lady, Claire (Jennifer Lopez), and she’s an upscale housewife. She’s got a McMansion in the San Fernando burbs, very leafy, very cozy. And the wardrobe—very sexy. Svelte! She wears chic-studious glasses at the computer, looking like a fabulous CEO working from home, except that she’s unhappy, so it’s quite possible she’s just shopping on eBay.
What could she be unhappy about? Her cheating husband (John Corbett)! Why would this man cheat? The fool is married to J., er, Claire-Lo. Every man (and boy) wants to be married to Claire-Lo. It’s tedious to suffer this level of fool ingrate hubby, with his purple tricked-out Dodge Challenger.
One day, a nice boy named Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves next door to take care of his aging uncle. That’s so nice. Noah’s nice!
No he’s not. We know this. We saw the trailer. That’s why we rent this nonsense on Netflix—to see Noah be bad. So how bad can Noah be? There are not enough bad words in the dictionary to describe how bad this bad Noah can be.
Anyway, Claire goes around her house, doing a lot of posing. She poses on the couch, she poses with the chic-studious glasses on, and she poses in lingerie. If these were still shots, it would be a Penthouse magazine shoot. Posing is what former dancers like J.Lo will automatically do if you don’t direct them properly.
So, while posing in the lingerie, she semi-hides behind a curtain and peeps across the garden fence to watch Noah next door taking off his shirt in his bedroom, flashing stud-muffin abs. Noah peeps back. What do we call this? We call this soft-core pornography.
The Plot Thickens!
But don’t be mistaken! Claire-Lo’s really falling for the kid’s mind, don’tcha know. And we know this because he dropped by earlier in the day, quoting the “Iliad” and telling Claire’s geeky son that Homer is cool.
This puts Claire over the moon. Why? Because Claire is actually a high school English teacher, who studied … wait for it … the classics, in college. And just like that—the mystery of why she wears glasses is revealed.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Noah brings her a “first edition” of the “Iliad” as a present. Wow. Wow!! Can you blame Claire for being all hot and bothered? Can you imagine if you were an English teacher and the cute person next door bought you a first-edition book from … 762 B.C.? Would you not treasure it? Or would you maybe sell it? Me, oh, I’d definitely sell it. But I digress.
So, as bad Noah hangs around some more, fixing things, in various manly states of sweaty, half-undress (manly looking, but he is in fact a minor), Claire peeps herself into a state of can’t-take-it-anymore. And so when hubby and son (Ian Nelson) go camping one weekend—very bad things go on!
And Noah wants more bad things to go on, but—Claire’s come to her senses! Whereupon Noah becomes seriously unhinged, just like we knew he would. Let the stalking begin. Also hacking. And the rapid destruction of Claire-Lo’s life. And the not-so-subtle undermining of J.Lo’s acting reputation.
Every sabotage-y, undermine-y, sneaky thing imaginable, the now seriously deranged Noah does. But Claire’s best friends with Vicky, the school’s assistant principal, played by the perennially perky Kristin Chenoweth, of Broadway and “Glee” fame. I know what you’re thinking. Does she sing? She does not sing. Nor, thankfully, does J.Lo.
So when Noah festoons Claire-Lo’s classroom with printouts of sneaky spy-cam footage of teacher trysts—well! Something’s clearly got to be done about this psycho-brat, and principal Vicky tries to help out.
But it’s not that easy! Noah’s quite fiendish. He’s always a step ahead! How will they thwart him?
All in all, to be fair, it’s not a movie meant for believability—it gets way too stupid way too fast, and just stays there. One could attempt to pose serious questions, like why Barbara Curry’s script never addresses how Noah got so nutty. But why? “The Boy Next Door” is a hoot-fest (or a snooze-fest) for adults, and if it was still the 1970s, it’d classify as a gateway drug for teenagers to start watching hardcore. In 2020, they already do.
Instead of “The Boy Next Door,” watch 2004’s “The Girl Next Door,” starring Elisha Cuthbert, Emile Hirsch, and Timothy Olyphant, about a redeemed porn star. Granted, that had some softcore too, but it was ultimately a strangely innocent, touching, haunting (and hilarious) film. Compared to “The Girl Next Door,” “The Boy Next Door” was a good indicator of how far Hollywood quality slid down in 10 short years.
‘The Boy Next Door’
Director: Rob Cohen
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett, Kristin Chenoweth, Lexi Atkins, Hill Harper, Jack Wallace, Adam Hicks
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 23, 2015
Rating: 0.5 star out of 5