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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Boy Next Door movie review: boys will be psychos

The Boy Next Door red light

Reaches beyond ordinary laughable movie nonsense to create a moment — only one, alas — that will reign in the annals of cheesy cinematic history.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Isn’t it amazing how guys in movies get to have decades-younger wives and girlfriends and it’s not a problem, not even a thing to be mentioned, but let a woman get in on the fun and enjoy some sexytime with a hot-bodied barely overage youngster, and suddenly it’s instant nightmare? That’s what happens to high-school lit teacher Claire (Jennifer Lopez: What to Expect When You’re Expecting) when Noah (Ryan Guzman: Step Up All In) moves in next door. The film goes to great lengths to reassure us that Noah and his abs are 19, almost 20 years old, but that he needs to finish up high school after his parents’ deaths interrupted his schooling. So he’s definitely not jailbait for Claire… but he’s still in a situation where he can menace her at work as well as at home after their hot, hot tryst one weekend when her ex husband (John Corbett: Ramona and Beezus) took their son (Ian Nelson: The Judge) on a camping trip. “Strange kid,” Claire’s best friend (Kristen Chenoweth: Rio 2) notes; “I can’t put my finger on it.” It’s that he’s preternaturally suave and confident for a teenager, and that ain’t cuz he is secretly 35. It’s that he’s a cartoon villain who goes from zero to psycho in 60 seconds, after Claire, in a moment of hormone-free reason, tells him that their night together was a one-off, never to happen again. The ridiculous script — by first-timer Barbara Curry — concocts absurd scenarios in which Noah can torment Claire for refusing to continue having sex with them, and then sets up Claire as an amateur detective hunting down clues that will help her figure out precisely what sort of nutjob he is; good thing cops are willing to show any ol’ civilian around an evidence impound yard, and good thing Noah leaves all his murderous research in clearly and accurately labeled folders on his computer. Kudos to Curry and director Rob Cohen (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), though, for reaching beyond the ordinary sort of laughable movie nonsense and creating a moment that will reign in the annals of cheesy cinematic history: the one in which Noah gives Claire a gift, something he found at a garage sale for “a buck.” It’s a book. A “first edition.” Of the Iliad. The moment couldn’t be any more deliciously terrible if the byline on the book’s cover credited it to Homer Simpson.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Boy Next Door for its representation of girls and women.

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The Boy Next Door (2015)
US/Can release: Jan 23 2015
UK/Ire release: Feb 27 2015

MPAA: rated R for violence, sexual content/nudity and language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong violence, threat, very strong language)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • bronxbee

    wouldn’t a “first edition” of the Iliad be on a scroll, or papyrus or something?

  • LaSargenta

    Oral tradition for centuries. No “first editions” of that available ever.

    Unless it is a first edition of the Chapman or Pope translations or some other famous version.

  • Right. Which would be worth an absolute fortune and probably wouldn’t be found by chance at a garage sale for a buck. And whatever the small likelihood of that actually happening, the chances of it happening almost immediately after they have a flirty conversation about the Iliad — which is also really hilariously awful — is so remotely small that it’s probably bigger than one-in-the number of atoms in the universe. Unless we’re meant to believe that this guy found that book first and then went in search of the right woman (ie, one who would appreciate a “first edition” of the Iliad) to become obsessed with so that she could reject him after they fuck so that he could then go psycho over her.

    There are so many problems with this one hilarious line. It’s almost worth seeing the movie for it alone. I have rarely heard such screaming laughter at a press screening when we all realized what we had just heard.

  • LaSargenta

    There is no way I’m sitting through that just for the one joke. I already struck it off my list when I saw the trailer. Glad you found something to laugh at, though!


  • Bluejay

    a flirty conversation about the Iliad

    I’m… trying to imagine what that could possibly be like.

    1. “I like taking walks along the shore, next to the wine-dark sea. Do you?”

    2. “Gosh, I’ve loved staying up to talk with you until Dawn, with her rosy fingers, reached up into the sky.”

    3. “Just as a lion, intent on his prey, will crouch unmoving in the shrub until just the right moment when he springs out, all rage and power, to bear down unrelenting upon the terrified cattle until at last his unending patience is rewarded and his feast hangs hot and red between his teeth… so will I be unrelenting and patient in my quest to find the perfect Netflix series to binge-watch with you, my dear.”

    4. “So… do you have any Trojans?”

  • bronxbee

    From Wikipaedia: (granted not the ultimate source, but…)

    “Along with the Odyssey, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC.[*]

    *Vidal-Naquet, Pierre. Le monde d’Homère (The World of Homer), Perrin (2000), p. 19

  • LaSargenta

    Yes, it was written down, but it was an already old, orally-passed story. That’s like having a first edition of Little Red Riding Hood. We could have Grimm’s first edition, or a first edition of whatever colour Perrault’s book was that contained it, but we can’t really have a first edition of that work. My recollection, as well, with the early written versions of the Iliad is that there was a lot of variety and the *best* was whichever had the most verses because it was assumed that some verses might have been forgotten by some bards. So, too, there’s versions rather than editions.

  • LaSargenta

    4. “So… do you have any Trojans?”

    …said Patroclos to Achilles. Or was that Odysseus to Circe later? Maybe he took some with him.

  • Bluejay

    Odysseus… now there’s a guy who knows all about one-eyed monsters.

  • LaSargenta

    And he was partner to Penelope who certainly knew how to string someone along.

  • Danielm80

    Here’s J. Lo’s actual dialogue from the movie:

    There once was a young man from Gilead
    Who wooed a sweet maid with the Iliad.
    The rhythm and rhyme
    Gave her pleasure sublime
    But not quite as much as fair Billy had.

  • LaSargenta

    Okay…you KNOW that the next time I see you guys I’m gonna make you all recite this stuff out loud, right?

  • David

    It’s important to remember that there was a time that J Lo was one of the hottest up and coming actresses out there. Everyone was predicting that she would be one of the biggest stars in the industry. Unfortunately, right after the Cell she stopped taking roles in good movies and started doing one vanity project after and became notorious for her diva behavior. She and Lindsay Lohan are cautionary tales that one of the most effective ways to kill your career in Hollywood is to get a reputation as being difficult to work. Fortunately, for Lopez, the music industry is more forgiving of that sort of thing than the film industry.

    Is this better or worse than Enough? And why isn’t it on lifetime or Cinemax?

  • All better than what is actually in the movie!

  • I haven’t seen *Enough* in more than a decade, since it was new, but judging from my review, I’d say this one isn’t as bad as that one.

    Lopez is generally fantastic and has great screen presence and is a more than passable actor. The problem is there aren’t many good roles for women. I would imagine that she’s ungodly rich enough to finance her own movies, but maybe she’s not interested in that, and just wants to act.

  • Jan_Willem

    Jennifer Lopez was altogether excellent opposite George Clooney’s in Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight”. Wouldn’t mind seeing more in that vein.

  • Tonio Kruger

    What? No quotes from “Tales of Brave Ulysses”? :-(


  • LaSargenta

    Absolutely true. I really liked that movie. I also liked her in El Cantante. It was a mess, but there were good performances in there under all that slash-and-burn editing.

  • RogerBW

    Ah, the CSI effect. If you are a woman, having anything other than a completely vanilla monogamous het relationship will bring you to DOOM.

  • Danielm80


    Noah woos J. Lo’s character by hiring William Shatner to serenade her with that song.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Awesome! ;-)

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    J. Lo produced or co-produced The Boy Next Door, and I have to admit, it was nice seeing a hot sex scene bwt a older woman and a hot younger dude for once—-too bad it became a typical nice-guy-quickly-turns-psycho-next-door thing, as usual. Sure, the film was ridiculous and over-the-top, but it did have some genuine suspense and a big entertaining blow out ending to boot. But yeah, it would be nice to see a film (like Hello, I Must Be Going,for example) where a women and a slightly younger dude end up together for a change. And,yeah, J. Lo’s a very good actress (and a relaly good singer,too) in her own right.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    Yeah, that’s one of her best films–definitely worth tracking down.

  • Yeah, she gets to have hot sex with a gorgeous younger guy. And then the entire rest of the film is about punishing her for doing that. That’s the entire purpose of the movie.

  • Owen1120

    Oh, I see. Ryan Guzman is the Master.

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