The Boy Next Door was a film of two very separate halves, approaching a theme which I can only describe as the dangers of flirting with students, which is surely common sense, right? Well as Rob Cohen tries to spice up the infamous student-teacher fantasy, he wines and dines with a dysfunctional plot. As the story struggles to decide where it’s heading, the film’s shock factor inevitably became its main selling point.
Jennifer Lopez brings a seductive slant to the divorced-teacher-in-the-middle-of-a-family-crisis role. With a cheating husband who wants her back and a jovial son with some repression issues, it’s the “wholesome” American family setting that you’d expect. So when Guzman arrives on the scene to add chemistry to a tense bout of literature references, it’s almost a relief when they finally put their verbosity into action and do the dirty in his living room. Of course, these daring actions come with consequences (what a surprise) as Guzman goes to disturbingly great lengths just for a second shot at a relationship that is out of his league.
In what felt like The Girl Next Door’s darker counterpart, its lazy storytelling was further antagonised by clumsy writing that failed to justify very little, only doing so to get away with doing the bare minimum. Characters were unexplained, undeveloped and had very little chance to shine and develop any sort of repoire. The film also developed a knack for lazy plot twists, which were convenient for the sake of it, foregrounding much less than it should have. This after a while became tiresome. Add that to the silly innuendos and dialogue as see-through as the curtains (a battleground for much of the character’s flirting), it all starts to border on juvenile. When the movie finally descended into its more dark and unhinged finale, it was again a relief to see that the film had moved on.
I suppose the biggest shame of The Boy Next Door is that it had the potential to be better. With another 30 minutes to buff out the story, this could’ve been more enjoyable. On a more positive note, while this film is more of an insight into Lopez’s libido, it is luckily overshadowed by the fiery, no-mess-no-fuss ending. Sadly however, the foreplay in Cohen’s movie didn’t really go anywhere fast enough and by the time it gathered any momentum, I was awkwardly calling for my taxi home.