Boys Next Door: Jennifer Lopez Stars in Trashy, Formulaic Erotic Thriller

the_boy_next_door_10The new erotic thriller, Boy Next Door, starring the gorgeous looking Jennifer Lopez, tries to revive a genre that was quite popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but, alas, as written and directed by Rob Cohen, it’s too shallow and predictable to generate any heat or interest.

The British director Adrian Lyne has made some of the aforementioned erotic thrillers, such as Fatal Attraction, Unfaithful, which were extremely manipulative but also very well crafted and acted, which may explain their huge box-office appeal.

I think it’s offensive to say that Boy Next Door aims to appeal to young Latinas, the core audience of J. Lo as a media star (singer-dancer, fashion mogul, American Idol judge, and so on).  They, as well as the star, deserve better material.

If anything the picture is not trashy or sleazy enough to offer the kinds of pleasures associated with this largely disreputable genre.

the_boy_next_door_9_lopezFirst you have to overcome disbelief that Lopez is cast as an English teacher, well versed in classic literature (she is wearing glasses to signify that she is smart and serious), and then that she is not bright enough to foresee what we viewers smell miles away.

Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a high school literature teacher struggling to get back in the dating game after separating from Garrett (John Corbett), her husband of 18 years, who had cheated on her.  Garret regrets his conduct and tries to rekindle their affair, but she is too hurt.

Meanwhile, their teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson) is bullied by his schoolmates–until he meets and befriends Noah (Ryan Guzman), the handsome 19 year old guy who moves in next door to care of his sick uncle after the tragic deaths of both his mother and father.

Noah shows strong attraction for Claire at first sight.  You can’t blame the horny lad: Though well into her forties, Lopez has never looked better or more seductive.

the_boy_next_door_8_lopezNoah spends his summer as a mentor, hanging out with Kevin, teaching him how to talk to girls, fix cars, in short how to be a “real man.”  But all along, he lusts after Claire–he never stops staring at her–and through Noah’s intense gaze, director Cohen invites the male audience to gaze as well, as his cameras caress Lopez’s face and body.

At first, Claire welcomes the friendship, then she is flattered by his flirtation.  What’s a lonely, dejected beautiful femme to do? She invites Noah over for dinner while his uncle is conveniently in the hospital, and they talk about literature.

Claire’s seemingly harmless flirtation encourage Noah’s behavior, and soon the hormonal guy has fallen hard for her.  He even enrolls as a fifth-year senior at Claire’s school.

the_boy_next_door_6_lopezThen one night, encouraged by her good friend and vice principal at school Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth, miscast and/or underused), Claire goes on a blind date that goes horribly awry.  Feeling dejected again, Claire comes home, only to receive a call from Noah asking for her help with a cooking “emergency.”   Shockingly she is still at ease, even as Noah begins showering her with compliments. Soon, he makes the first move, kissing her and taking off her clothes, while she pushes him away–gently and hesitantly.

Noah is the first man who has made her feel worthy and desirable in a long time. In a moment of weakness, she surrenders and they have a brief but intense and steamy one-night stand.  The next morning, Claire realizes her perilous error, and apologizes to Noah for her lapse in judgment.

Predictably for anyone who has been going to the movies, the guy’s charm and flirtatious demeanor turns into a dangerous, violent obsession. After threats and an blackmail, showing evidence of their night together, Claire  confides in Vicky, and together they try to come up with a plan to safeguard the family.  However, Noah’s fatal attraction pushes Claire to the limits while protecting herself and her family from a dangerous psychopath.

the_boy_next_door_5Among several contrivances, Noah professes love for Homer and “The Iliad,” which “just happens” to be the subject of Claire’s teaching next semester.  There was laughter in the audience, when Noah expresses his frustration by punching the wall as hard as he can–with no apparent pain or injury.