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Boy Next Door, The

Universal // R // April 28, 2015
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted April 16, 2015 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

I wanted to watch The Boy Next Door precisely because I saw the trailer and how unintentionally funny seemed to be in the way it was spelling out its story in two and a half minutes. While I certainly was not going to spend my money to see it, once it came out to video, I could not help but leap at the chance to check it out.

The film is written by first-time screenwriter Barbara Curry and directed by Rob Cohen (Alex Cross). Jennifer Lopez (Out of Sight) plays Claire, who teaches at the local high school and is trying to figure out if she wants to reconcile with her husband or move on with her life. She runs into Noah (Ryan Guzman, Step Up All In), who lives next door and takes care of his ailing Uncle after losing his parents in a car crash. One night, Claire's vulnerability allows her to give in to feelings for Noah who had already expressed them by this point. Claire regrets this decision the next morning, and Noah's anger leads to him attempting to manipulate her and those around her, including family and friends at the school she teaches.

So, let's talk about the 30,000 foot view of suspending your disbelief when it comes to The Boy Next Door. Let's try and buy the fact that Guzman (who was either 26 or 27 at the time of filming) is a high school kid attending class. Go on, google Ryan Guzman, and ask yourself if he could pass for 16. Watch any variety of clips with Guzman, for that matter. Shoot, if he was a twenty-something dropout who took up a meth habit, had rotten out teeth, got clean and started working out, MAYBE I'd buy it. But it does not work. Put the scenes with Guzman and Ian Nelson (who plays Claire's son Kevin) together. They're supposed to be the same age.

But let's look at the key moment that is supposed to make you buy into The Boy Next Door. It is one that has little put into it, thrown together by whatever moment of weakness Claire had (which Lopez communicates poorly), and it goes from Noah being crazy to Noah being very crazy. Things incrementally build on the incredulity to the point where the last act finale is laughable in just how bad it is, and you are left wondering what you did to deserve spending the previous 90 minutes of your life like that.

There are a couple of things that are not completely horrible. John Corbett (United States of Tara) plays Claire's estranged husband Garrett and that his role as the guy aware of his mistakes and indiscretion is decent. Also, Kristin Chenoweth (Bewitched) plays Claire's friend and the vice principal at the school Vicky, and she is fine as both, but when she's actually used as part of the story is when things get a bit messy. The scene where Noah is expelled is bad that it is comical, and there are more of them that follow.

At the end of the day, it is hard to even enjoy mocking The Boy Next Door, mainly because it seems a tiny bit to want to be in on the joke, and that never seems to work in a movie. I will leave it to more qualified individuals like the folks at "How Did This Get Made?" to find the bad karma in it all, but honestly it did not make it enough of an investment to my proclivity to cinematic crap that I remember it for being bad. It is just there.

The Blu-ray Disc:
The Video:

Universal at least gives The Boy Next Door a gorgeous looking transfer to go with the movie. Image detail is sharp as a tack in the background with a nice multidimensional feel to it, while in the foreground, it shows off the natural beauty of Lopez while not possessing as much detail in skin blemishes. Colors are reproduced well and aren't overly saturated, while flesh tones and black levels in the film are a tad inconsistent, but nothing to be concerned about. All in all, another top notch presentation for a new release.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround is solid. The rumble of the Mustang of Corbett is felt throughout the theater, and dialogue is well-balanced in the front of the soundstage. That said, there tends to be a lack of dynamics in the softer moments either when it comes to channel panning and directional effects. The subwoofer rumbles when it needs to when it comes to providing a low end, but the soundtrack almost resorts more to power as a default without nuance. It is good, but not great.


Cohen contributes a commentary that is decent, but I was hoping for something a little more on the retroactive side of things. He talks about working with the cast and occasional shot intent, but otherwise, a lot of what goes on is narrating the action onscreen and not very memorable. Next are five deleted scenes (9:34) which soften things up in the story if we are being honest. It seems like those behind The Boy Next Door may have realized the film was crap and were going for full-blown kitsch in the final cut, but it's hard to know without confirmation. There is also a making of look at the film (9:17) which covers the usual ground. A standard definition copy of the film and a digital copy complete things.

Final Thoughts:

Much as I am a fan of bad movies, as I have said before, if there is a conviction in what the film is without the awareness of making a "bad movie" then more often than not, the goal will have been met. The Boy Next Door seems to lack ANY sort of thoughts on it one way or another, borrowing some sincerity and an eye wink and it never really works as a bad movie, thus being bad for the wrong reasons. Technically, the disc is pretty nifty, and the extras are disappointing. Still, if you want to make fun of something, you have your chance.

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