The Boy Next Door

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Laura Clifford 
The Boy Next Door

Robin Clifford 

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is a high school classics teacher recently separated from her cheating husband Garrett (John Corbett, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding").  Her best friend, high school vice principal Vicky Lansing (Kristin Chenoweth, TV's 'Pushing Daisies') is trying to steer her away from Garrett towards other men, but Claire gets more than she bargained for when her son Kevin (Ian Nelson, "The Judge") becomes friends with "The Boy Next Door."

Laura:
This howler of a movie is exactly what you'd expect from the title and its star, a cheesy psychotic stalker thriller which appears to have dropped elements of its plot on the way to the screen.  The first produced screenplay of former L.A. Asst. District Attorney Barbara Curry features a boy 'nearing twenty' who still goes to high school and another, Kevin, whose bee allergy is also triggered by boxing practice.  Signposts either bash us over the head or spring up out of nowhere.  "The Fast and the Furious" director Rob Cohen only seems comfortable staging a failed brake sequence on a twisty mountain road or pointing the camera at well toned flesh.

Claire, whose professional makeup and killer wardrobe belie her profession, clearly likes having Garrett around, but can't get over the fact that he cheated.  One day, as she's preparing to take Kevin for an allergy test, a killer bod shows up out of nowhere to assist with a broken garage door.  He's the nephew of next door neighbor Bob (Jack Wallace, "Boogie Nights"), a Vietnam vet in need of a bone marrow transplant who informs her the kid's just lost his parents and is taking care of him (before conveniently disappearing until it's time for a jump scare), but it's immediately evident who Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman, "Step Up Revolution") really wants to 'care' for.

On a wild and rainy night after Garrett's taken Kevin away for the weekend, Claire comes home dejected from a horrible date set up by Vicky.  She's no sooner in the door when she gets a call from Noah, asking for help cooking his chicken.  We all know what really needs heating up.  Claire's attempts to cool Noah's jets go nowhere.  He shows up in her class, having hacked her computer (but spends the rest of the time half naked in the gym), papers her classroom with steamy photos and threatens her with exposing their sex video, all in the name of love.  He sets Kevin up with the school hottie (Lexi Atkins), sways the kid against his dad and beats the living daylights out of Kevin's tormentor, which gets him expelled. Garrett's purple Challenger begs to be tampered with. By the film's climax, just after Claire's suddenly figured out 'the Sandborn case,' we're talking throat slashing, beatings, eye gouging, fire and dropping really heavy objects.

"The Boy Next Door" is utterly ludicrous.  Guzman's attempts at malevolence consist of a sideways smirk. Not even a warning given to Claire by her principal (Hill Harper, TV's 'Covert Affairs,' 'CSI: NY') feels in any way organically arrived at.  Give it points for all its inadvertent amusement.

Grade:  D+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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