There’s “so bad it’s good.” It’s an interesting movie category. Like “Showgirls.” Such movies tend to become cult classics. There’s also “so bad it’s ridiculous.”
There’s “funny-haha,” and “funny-strange,” but the howler that is “The Boy Next Door” lands solidly in the category of “funny-please-just-shoot-me-now.”
So there’s this lady, Claire, and she’s a housewife. Like, upscale. 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 she’s unhappy, so it’s quite possible she’s shopping on eBay.
What could she be unhappy about? Her cheating husband! (John Corbett). Why would the man cheat? The fool is married to Claire-Lo. Every man (and boy) wants to be married to Claire-Lo. It’s difficult to suffer this level of fool ingrate hubby, with his tricked-out purple 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 came here and paid $14.50 to see Noah be bad. How bad can Noah be? Oh, there are not enough bad words in the dictionary for how bad this bad, bad Noah can be.
Anyway, Claire goes around posing. She poses on the couch, she poses with the 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 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. He peeps back. What do we call this? We call this softcore pornography.
But don’t be mistaken—she’s really falling for the kid’s mind, don’tcha know. 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 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. Can you blame Claire for being excited? Can you imagine if someone brought you a first-edition book from 762 B.C.? Would you not treasure it? Or would you maybe sell it? We’d definitely sell it. But we digress.
So bad, bad Noah hangs around some more, fixing things (the garage door) in various states of sweaty half-undress, Claire peeps herself into a state of can’t-take-it-anymore, and 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 he becomes seriously unhinged like we knew he would, and the stalking begins. Also hacking. And the destruction of Claire’s life. And the 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 the assistant principal, played by perennially perky Kristen Chenoweth. We know what you’re thinking. Does she sing? She does not sing. Nor does, thankfully, J.Lo.
So when Noah festoons Claire’s classroom with printouts of sneaky spy-cam footage of the teacher trysts, well, something’s clearly got to be done about this psycho-brat, and principal Vicky (Chenoweth) tries to help out.
Oh, but it’s not that easy! He’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 it came to pass that Noah got so nutty. But that would be a waste of time. Who cares?
“The Boy Next Door” is a hoot-fest for adults, and a good way to get your teenagers to start watching hardcore.
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. How far we’ve 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, 30 minutes
Release date: Jan. 20
0.5 star out of 5