"The Boy Next Door": A Mars vs Venus review

STARRING: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, John Corbett, Ian Nelson


THE SKINNY: Claire (Lopez) is a single mother who becomes all aflutter when her teenage son (Nelson) makes friends with Noah (Guzman), the hunky new kid in the neighbourhood. Claire ends up doing it with the boy, but then he turns into a total stalker, even harassing her at the school where she works as a teacher. Noah's attentions also threaten to upend her rekindled relationship with her ex (Corbett).


A Mars look by Jason Johnson

Remember those erotic thrillers from the 80s and 90s like Basic Instinct, Poison Ivy and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle? That's what this is.

These are flicks about some sexy psycho seducing a dude and destroying a family.

Generally speaking, I like the erotic thriller genre; the flicks are usually entertaining in spite of themselves. Unfortunately, this example is neither erotic nor thrilling.

Lopez has made a lot of bland movies, and this is yet another one.

The problem with her as an actress is that she often wants to come across as a normal woman in the roles she plays.

Early in her acting career, she let her freak flag fly in movies like U Turn, The Cell and Out Of Sight.

Then she started making all those rom-coms - from The Wedding Planner to Monster-In-Law - and her name became synonymous with *yawn*.

She just got super boring.

In The Boy Next Door, Lopez plays up the "good girl" side of the character to the point that it's just lame.

If you're going to make an erotic thriller, have the courage of your convictions, for goodness' sake.

Off-screen, Lopez seems like one of the most carnal women on earth, a total man-eater. She's an uber-cougar.

Why does she hide this side of herself in her movies?

It's a side I'm sure most of us would like to see!

A Venus look by Joanne Soh

If flirting with a guy who's supposedly your son's age doesn't qualify as a cougar, then what does?

Lopez's Claire is one through and through.

The actress-singer has proudly proclaimed in the many interviews for this film that she sees no shame in older women dating younger men.

So it begs the question of whether she's actually playing a version of herself here - she is, after all, also a producer on The Boy Next Door.

You can't deny that Guzman is one good-looking hunk. But whether his acting skills are adequate to turn him into a bona fide actor is another matter.

What kills this movie isn't Claire's constant perving at Noah through her window or her sudden discovery of self-righteousness, but the lack of movement and energy.

Director Cohen is not the person you'd turn to for such flicks.

Everything is flat, flat, flat.

The plot of a spurned lover-turned-stalker obviously has no-brainer potential, but where's the suspense? Where's the thrill? You know how the film is going to end, and the process of getting to the finale is quite painful.

There is a lot of eye candy for guys and girls. But with zero chemistry between the leads, this is a paint-by-numbers flick that perhaps serves to satisfy lust and nothing else.

THE CONSENSUS: It's called an erotic thriller, but there's nothing sexy about it, other than its scandalous topic.

This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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