I wonder what was going through JLo’s head when she signed up to co-produce and star in The Boy Next Door, a film that has straight-to-DVD written all over it. Then again, while she is no doubt a star, she’s not exactly a film star, with her last film credit being the forgotten 2013 flick Parker with Jason Statham, and the one before that being the abominable What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
In fact, it’s arguable that JLo has only been in two legitimately good movies, being U-Turn and Out of Sight, released back-to-back in 1997 and 1998, when she was at the height of her popularity. Those good deeds were outdone by her subsequent turkeys, including The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law, and of course, the infamous Gigli.
The Boy Next Door falls firmly in the turkey category, though I would argue it’s not quite as bad as the others simply because expectations are so low. You know how it goes. JLo plays a teacher with a teenage son and a cheating husband (John Corbett). At a time when she feels vulnerable, she gives in to temptation with the hunky next-door neighbour (Ryan Guzman), who happens to be friends with her son. Naturally, she realises she’s made a huge mistake, but of course the hunk is an obsessive psycho who won’t let her go.
It’s a cliche-fest driven by adult themes but (intentionally) adolescent execution. JLo gets to show off that she’s still in good shape, while Guzman pads his stats as a heartthrob with multiple views of his muscular arms and abs. Cheesy dialogue, cringeworthy moments are aplenty, and genuine thrills are difficult to come by. What makes it worse is that there are no decent characters to root for. Apart from being a moron, JLo’s character is a fake tough guy who you simply can’t sympathise with. Her son (Ian Nelson), is such an obnoxious brat that you just keep hoping he gets his face smashed in. The husband is an obvious slimeball, so you can forget about him, whereas the school principal and JLo’s only friend (squeaky-voiced Kristin Chenoweth) is a sacrificial lamb waiting to happen. So that just leaves the psycho, who could have been an antihero of sorts if only he had any semblance of a real personality or more than one facial expression.
The end product is an unoriginal, predictable B-grade thriller people will probably see on late-night TV years from now and assume JLo made it when she was a struggling nobody. The Boy Next Door is not the worst thing JLo has ever made, though a lot of that has to do with the fact that no one could have possibly gone into the movie expecting it to be any good.
1.75 stars out of 5