Review: J.Lo unwisely dallies with ‘The Boy Next Door’

An affair takes a dangerous turn in "The Boy Next Door" with Ryan Guzman and Jennifer Lopez.
(Suzanne Hanover / AP)

No good sex goes unpunished in “The Boy Next Door,” breathless, uninspired January junk that feels like the iffiest bits of a Lifetime movie and late-night cable schlock slapped together. (And not erotically.)

In what qualifies as a stretch, the definitely-knows-she’s-sexy Jennifer Lopez plays a doesn’t-know-she’s-sexy high school English teacher named Claire, newly separated and eager to restore domestic bliss with her husband (John Corbett) and teenage son (Ian Nelson).

But when hunky new 19-year-old neighbor and transfer student Noah (Ryan Guzman) — whom director Rob Cohen introduces biceps-first — talks a mean Iliad and befriends her shy kid, Claire gives in one night to Noah’s flirtations and her own impulses.


Noah, of course, is rancid beefcake, an obsessed psycho who doesn’t take kindly to Claire’s next-day regrets. Noah violently turning Claire’s life upside down is meant to be trashy fun, but Cohen and screenwriter Barbara Curry don’t have the deranged heart, or the skill at smoothing over dumb plotting, to make disreputably pleasurable exploitation.

“The Boy Next Door” isn’t frenzied, just by-the-numbers, despite some hilarious, Hays Code era-worthy visual metaphors early on (Noah fixing Claire’s garage door, a rattled Claire dropping a pie). Lopez is suitably gung-ho with her succession of terrified reactions, but the biggest problem is that Guzman is mostly a smirking bore, too blandly handsome and one-note to give his character the attention-must-be-paid, home-wrecking spirit of a Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.”


‘The Boy Next Door’

MPAA rating: R for violence, sexual content, nudity, language

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: In wide release