WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS.
When there are so many fascinating, well-conceptualized independent films by gifted talent that hardly anyone sees because of limited promotion and sponsorship, it's always surprising when a major distributor like Universal Pictures backs a movie with a cliché` plot, especially when there's no new life breathed into it. Young lover/fatal attraction combo The Boy Next Door follows teacher and jilted wife, Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez), as her life dangerously turns upside down after having a one-night-stand with her whipper-snapper neighbor, Noah (Ryan Guzman).
There are so many devices of convenience to make Claire and Noah's proximity plausible (like him living next door and her marriage being on the rocks after infidelity), it's confusing why writer Barbara Curry would pack her story with so many forced, silly setups and situations. The usual statutory rape factor is eliminated because Noah is 20-years-old, but he might as well be underage, as he came to live with his great-uncle after being orphaned, befriends Claire's teen son and weasels his way into her literature class (by hacking into her email and sending a message to administrators insisting he be allowed in) under the guise that he's trying to complete his GED. Adult GED programs take place in local high-schools during the day with minors? Oh, ok. The lead-in to their singular love scene was so brief, random and without context, it was more like one you'd see in a porn versus a full-length movie, although it was steamy and nicely choreographed. It goes down like this: he has a cooking disaster. She comes over to save the day after a disaster date. He flatters her. They have sex. Good grief. At a school dance, there's a flood in the boy's bathroom and instead of a night janitor, Claire is summoned to attend to it. This illogical moment happens just so she can see "I f***** Claire Peterson" sprawled on the wall and be cornered by Noah. As the film the progresses, the details of Noah's back-story seem even more senseless and dysfunctional because it only explains his secondary actions towards Claire's husband and son. We never get more understanding about his infatuation with her or why it happens so instantly. While the climax is acceptably suspenseful, the ridiculousness of the particulars is most obtrusive there and the ending (i.e. how our villain dies) is quite the let down.
The cast, bless their hearts, work with the script the best they can. John Corbett is the only actor out of place; it's just not believable that this man is J.Lo's husband. On that note, I wonder if it frustrates or insults Lopez that when the characters she portrays have a family, they're often Caucasian and there's no acknowledgement that she's Latina. Guess that's another conversation. Why is the amazing Kristin Chenoweth, who plays the vice principal, in this movie? Why did they kill her? How do you kill Kristin Chenoweth?! How does Hill Harper only get a throwaway role and scenes? What's going on? Talent was wasted why?
The Boy Next Door is like a Lifetime Network movie: you're intrigued by the premise and are curious enough to sit through (and laugh at) superfluous exaggerations and specs, only to somehow get sucked into caring about the outcome and be disappointed by the rushed, stupid ending that doesn't vindicate the 2 hours of your life gone. Actually, at least Lifetime movies are sure to add a crazy twist or angle to archetypal plots.