The Boy Next Door

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Copyright 2015 Universal
Copyright 2015 Universal

Even by the very low standards of January movies, “The Boy Next Door” still manages to be a disappointment. It even manages to disappoint beyond the very dim expectations for director Rob Cohen, His “Alex Cross” and “Stealth” were both on my year-end worst lists and his entry in the “Fast and Furious” franchise (the first) is by far the least of the series. This dumb, thrill-less thriller, produced by star Jennifer Lopez, has no surprises, with the possible exception of how she manages to have such perfect hair and lipstick in every scene, even when she is being chased by a maniac.

Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a high school English teacher (specializing in “the classics”), living with her teenage son, Kevin (Ian Nelson), and separated from her husband, Garrett (John Corbett, who needs to raise his fees for those Walgreen ads so he can stay away from drek like this), who was sleeping with his secretary but now wants Claire to forgive him and start over.  Claire is hurt and finds it hard to trust Garrett again.  Her generic sassy best friend, Vicki (Kristin Chenoweth) wants her to date other men and have some fun.  But the blind date Vicki sets up is a disaster.  Claire is lonely and relationships seem scary and complicated.  Garrett and Kevin are off camping and she is alone.  

She gets a distress call from the hunky 19-year-old next door.  He’s great with anything mechanical and easily fixed her garage door.  But it seems that he does not know how to defrost a chicken.  Out of concern for possible botulism, which can definitely have an adverse impact on hotness, she goes over there.  Of course.  And it’s raining.  Of course.  And he tells her she is beautiful.  And starts to kiss her. And take her clothes off.  And then they engage in activities that, as she will find, are even higher-risk than undercooked chicken.

But (spoiler alert) the lip gloss stays perfect throughout.

At least the walk of shame is a short one.  She lives next door.  And she thinks she knows how to talk to teenagers.  She explains, kindly, that it was not his fault and tries impose some boundaries.  But he does not want to go along.  And we’re only 30 minutes in, so that means one third build-up to sex, two-third still ahead for him to make her feel threatened until (spoiler alert) a big, violent, confrontation.

We don’t need a lot of sophistication and subtlety from thrillers like this one.  We just need the plot to be not completely laughable, the characters not completely incomprehensibly idiotic, and the action not something we’ve seen a dozen times before.  This movie fails on all counts.  The script barely qualifies as dialogue, with exposition-heavy lines that all land with a thud except for the ones that land with a splat.  But that’s still better than what passes for wit.  Garrett has been sleeping with his secretary on business trips to San Francisco, so Vicki quips, painfully, “That gives new meaning to ‘San Francisco treat,'” which would not have qualified as movie-worthy even when those old Rice-a-Roni ads were still in heavy rotation.  And even that’s still better than what passes for suspense.  (Okay, actual spoiler alert coming here, in case anyone cares.)  When the bad guy starts monologuing to a motionless good guy we cannot see or hear, it’s a pretty safe bet that Elvis has left the building, and by Elvis I mean life.  The biggest disappointment of all?  It’s not even stupid enough to be dumb fun — with the possible exception of fan of “the classics” Claire’s delighted response to a gift from the hunk next door, a “first edition” by Homer, who lived centuries before the invention of the printing press.

Parents should know that this film includes extreme peril and violence including guns, knives, and other weapons and fire, characters injured and killed, graphic and disturbing images, very strong language, nudity and explicit sexual situations.

Family discussion: How did Claire’s blind date make her more vulnerable to Noah? How did Noah’s past affect his view of Claire’s marriage?

If you like this, try: “Firstborn” and “The Crush”

Related Tags:


Not specified

One Reply to “The Boy Next Door”

Comments are closed.

THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik