19 year-old Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door to care for his elderly uncle. Claire (Jennifer Lopez) is a high school teacher who has newly separated from her cheating husband. Noah seems like the perfect neighbour – polite, handy around the house and kind to her young son who struggles to fit in at school. But he’s also attractive, which is something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Claire. But passion soon turns to terror as Noah develops an unhealthy obsession with her that has deadly repercussions for everyone involved.
Jennifer Lopez returns to the big screen in this absurd and frankly hilarious domestic thriller. What feels like a film taken directly from the early 90s slate of erotically-charged movies like The Crush and Basic Instinct, The Boy Next Door is a playful homage to that era. It takes itself very seriously which is part of its charm, because the story itself is packed with clichés and soft focus shots that wouldn’t be out of place in a Nicholas Sparks film.
After Jenny and her Block succumb to the handsome charms of Step Up’s Ryan Guzman, the film really begins to entertain. Cracking one-liners ensue (I love your Mom’s cookies), with a level of character stupidity that will have you shouting at the screen. But this is pure popcorn fun and for all of its faults, it’s still very entertaining in a tongue-in-cheek way. You’ll laugh and you’ll face-palm when things start to go south for Claire, dutifully helped along by Director Rob (XXX & The first Fast and Furious movie) Cohen’s heavy and direct vision.
Casting is key here and J-Lo can certainly act. She has great screen presence and easily sells the concept. Ryan Guzman does exceptionally well given how two-dimensional his character is. He’s obviously got the physical attributes to sell that part of the story but he also handles the thriller aspect well. His delivery of coded slurs is also wonderful (one about the weather and it being really wet is just pure gold). The two share a wonderful chemistry that works positively. Elsewhere there are strong turns from Pushing Daisies favourite Kristin Chenoweth, John Corbett and Ian Nelson.
Reversing the ‘older man with a younger girl’ theme, The Boy Next Door is trashy, entertaining fun with a collective cast all in for the ride. Pretend it’s the early 90s and you’ll enjoy the film a lot more. With Jennifer Lopez at the helm it was always going to be watchable but she helps make this one of the best guiltiest pleasures you’ll see this year.