Oh, J. Lo. Oh, honey.
This weekend, fellow DC writer Amy Cooley and I decided to do something crazy. We saw a movie IN A THEATER (who knew people still do that?). Turns out, our daring display of courage and adventurism paid off as we sat through the best, worst movie we’d ever seen. Jennifer Lopez’s new erotic thriller, “The Boy Next Door,” surpassed the bad category by so much that it landed itself in the highly entertaining category. You managed to make Amy and me laugh, J.Lo. I’ll give you that.
“The Boy Next Door” centers on Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez), a recently separated woman, and her erotic, treacherous interaction with her young, handsome next door neighbor Noah Sandborn (newcomer Ryan Guzman). In the beginning of the film, an attraction between the two star-crossed lovers sparks as Noah befriends Ian, Claire’s teenage son (but something tells me Noah flaunting his svelte physique in front of an open window for Claire might have something to do with her fascination as well). When Ian leaves for a weekend trip with his adulterous yet apologetic father Garrett (John Corbett), Noah makes his move on conflicted Claire, and well, I think you can figure out what happens next. (Okay, I give. They have sex. Cats out of the bag.) To my shock, Claire having sexual relations with her son’s best friend creates some problems, especially when said best friend becomes obsessed with her and cheats his way into her literature class. As the film unfolds and Claire realizes she should refrain from “releasing the stress of teaching and impending divorce” with a hot teenager, Noah becomes persistent for the affair to proceed and eventually turns downright dangerous (GASP). One thing leads to another, and everyone’s life quickly becomes in danger. After one of the most interesting cinematic confrontations I’ve seen (spoiler alert: an EpiPen is used as a weapon), Claire can breathe easy again and is free to canoodle with men her own age. Happily ever after.
One of the most important rules for a film critic is to refrain from simply saying that a movie is just, well, bad. Now I don’t consider myself a rebel, but “The Boy Next Door” challenges my inner delinquent. So here it is. This movie is bad, guys. It’s really bad.
“The Boy Next Door” thrives on cinematic clichés from an obsessed stalker and a vulnerable victim to anticipated attacks and consequences. Even though the entire film was predictable, I rarely had a clue what was happening thanks to speedy cuts and strange character blocking. The film’s plot progressed so fast that I was left wondering what trauma I had just endured at the end of the film. (Don’t worry, dear readers. Amy and I are seeing a therapist and working through it. I appreciate your concern.) I mean, you know it was bad when Amy and I couldn’t even figure out what was going on in the sex scene (not even J. Lo’s famous body could save this one). Additionally, the acting felt forced, the cinematography unmotivated, and the editing unprofessional. In other words, “The Boy Next Door,” a movie with one of the simplest plots in film history, managed to confuse me. I’m sorry, but that’s impressive.
Now, I don’t normally advise people to go see a terrible movie, but I do try to encourage people toward films that will bring them joy. With that said, “The Boy Next Door” made me laugh harder than a lot of comedies I’ve seen. Like our parents used to tell us (hi mom), we must learn to find the good in everything. Therefore, “The Boy Next Door” is so bad that it’s good. It brought me laughter. It brought me genuine fear. And it brought me an enormous amount of appreciation for every other movie in the theater. Basically, “The Boy Next Door” has the makings of classic. (How dare the Academy have the audacity to not nominate this film for best picture? What is wrong with the film industry?)
So if you want to embark on one of the most gratifying yet unproductive experiences of your entire life (dramatic much, Blair?), then go see “The Boy Next Door.” I can promise you this: you will be disappointed, but as happy as an SMU student at Barley. So much confusion, yet so much joy.