Create your balance. Design your life.

“The Boy Next Door” should have stayed home.


Jennifer Lopez stars as Claire Peterson, a high school teacher who is separated from husband Garrett (John Corbett) due to his infidelity with an out of town acquaintance. She and Garrett are still very much involved in each other’s lives because they have a teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson). Her best friend and co-worker is Vicky Lansing (Kristen Chenoweth) who spends much of her time trying to set Claire up with new men. Claire however, is still entertaining the idea of trying to work things out with Garrett.

One weekend while trying to get her garage door to work properly Claire and Kevin meet teenager Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman). He is moving in next door with his elderly grand-uncle Mr. Sandborn (Jack Wallace). Mr. Sandborn is having surgery and needs someone to help him while he recovers. His grand-nephew lost his parents a couple of years earlier in an auto accident and is getting a fresh start by moving in. This move will give Noah a place to stay and allow him to go back and complete high school. He dropped out when his parents died.

About a week before school Garrett invites Claire to go camping with him and Kevin. Claire, still not entirely over the hurt of his affair, declines the invitation. That weekend while her son is gone with his father she makes an error in judgement. Noah is home alone. His grand uncle in the hospital for his surgical procedure. Noah has tried defrosting a chicken in the microwave and part of it is cooked and part of it is still raw. He calls Claire to ask if it is safe to eat the cooked portion. She ends up going over to help the boy cook it so he can have a decent dinner. There has been flirtation between Noah and Claire. She has always thought of it as harmless  flirtation. Noah has other ideas. Before she can leave he tries to seduce her. Claire denies the advances but eventually lets her sexual feelings override logic and the two have sex. The next morning Claire is shocked by her actions of the previous night and tells Noah that as an adult that she should not have allowed it to happen.Claire says she was feeling vulnerable and what happened was a mistake. She lets him know that this will never happen again. What she doesn’t know is that Noah is obsessed with her.

Noah will invade Claire’s world by insinuating himself into her daily life first and foremost by becoming her son’s best friend. Through careful manipulation, he will try to poison her family against one another. His obsession will end up threatening her job, family, friends and eventually her very life.

The movie is “The Boy Next Door”. It was released by Universal Studios and was produced in part by Jennifer Lopez on a very modest 4 million dollar budget. It looks really good for a low budget film. I love Ms. Lopez so it makes what I have to say about this film painful for me. This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week.

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) engages in what she believes is harmless flirtation with new neighbor Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) in "The Boy Next Door"

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) engages in what she believes is harmless flirtation with new neighbor Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) in “The Boy Next Door”

“The Boy Next Door” was inspired very,very loosely by Mary Kay Letourneau. This movie doesn’t offer anything new in the teacher sleeps with her younger student arena nor in the ensuing obsession aspect. We have seen these stories before and they have been done better.

The cast is spot on and Ms. Lopez has never been more beautiful. The fault does not lie with the actors in this film. I don’t know if it was just a weak script or bad editing. It could be a combination of both. “The Boy Next Door” comes off like a inferior television movie of the week with some nudity thrown in for measure.

In the original version of the script both Claire’s son Kevin and neighbor Noah were younger teens. The director Rob Cohen decided to make the boys older so people would not be as upset and better understand how it might be possible that Claire would end up in bed with this young man. I wish they had stuck with the original idea. It would have made for a darker, more intense and richer story with better dramatic possibilities.

The film is meant to be an erotic thriller. The film is far from erotic. The sex in the film is brief and not that interesting. The filmmaker’s had an opportunity to craft a beautiful scene between Claire and Noah where you could feel Claire’s passion and ended up with a scene that might arouse a teenage boy at best. It was a wasted opportunity and in this film many opportunities were wasted.

I watched Jennifer Lopez talk about the film in several interviews and she said it was a scary and intense film where you would be on the edge of your seat knowing something terrible was about to happen. The movie starts off well. When you have a thriller the tension should build a little at the time filling you with a sense of anxiety and feeling of dread for the protagonist. The movie fails. Noah’s different ways of striking out at Claire aren’t that interesting. There are a couple moments that are wonderful. In a 90 minute movie you need more than a couple.

There were many moments in the movie where the filmmakers could have achieved greatness and instead went in a different direction creating ignored possibilities instead. Things in this movie just happen to easily. Where they could have maximized suspense they instead just skated through some of the scenes leaving me disappointed. There were so many moments that could have been great including a scene in the basement of Noah’s house, Claire’s realization of just how obsessed Noah is with her, several times where she was alone and could have been terrorized, a weak car chase and some things I can’t buy into at all. I will give you one example with out ruining the film for you:

Claire gets into Noah’s computer when he is not at home. She sees diagrams for the brake system in a mini-van. Noah’s parents died in an auto accident 2 years before this story starts. She becomes suspicious and goes to the city he used to live in to talk to the police. She wants to ask questions about the accident and low and behold. After two years, with it being deemed just an accident, the police are able to take Claire to the burned out hulk of the mini-van which they just happen to still have in a garage. Really!?!??!

Claire tells her son Kevin that she wants him to stay away from Noah.

Claire tells her son Kevin that she wants him to stay away from Noah.

One of my biggest problems with the film is the ending. The ending should have started much earlier. The last 30 minutes of this movie could have built so much suspense that would have been like a roller coaster ride leading up to the final confrontation between the characters. Sadly the entire set up and ending only take up about 15 minutes of screen time and the final confrontation lasts about 5 minutes. All the tension that should have been building through the film shows up here with all the charm of a poorly made horror movie. By this point I realized I didn’t even care who lived or died. I entered the theater really wanting to like Jennifer Lopez’s new film but alas, the whole movie felt mediocre and left me unsatisfied.

I was not pleased by this particular effort. Your time would be better spent re-watching “Fatal Attraction” starring Glenn Close or “Fear” starring Reese Witherspoon. Both films are far superior to this movie which is unremarkable at best.

I give this movie 4 out of 10

“The Boy Next Door” (2015)

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett and Kristen Chenoweth

Rated: R  

this film contains violence, sexual content/nudity and language.



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