'Boy Next Door' is dumb fun, minus the fun

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

He'll befriend your son, fix your garage door and wow you with his knowledge of Homer ("Dude, you've gotta read 'The Iliad' "). Just don't sleep with the boy next door, because it turns out (gasp!) he's a murderous psychopath.

So it goes in "The Boy Next Door," a routine, by-the-numbers erotic thriller assembled from the parts of a thousand predecessors (Blockbuster used to have a whole aisle dedicated to this stuff). This kind of thing could be trashy fun in the hands of a genre satirist, but director Rob Cohen, continuing his downward slide after helming the first "Fast and the Furious," doesn't have the sense of humor to laugh with his subject matter or the wherewithal to spin it in a fresh way. He just sets it in motion and lets the predictable pieces fall into place.

Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a recently divorced high school literature teacher. Her philandering ex-husband (John Corbett) is still in the picture, and her high school age son, Kevin (Ian Nelson), is so confused over his parents' split that his feelings are hurt when Mom decides not to tag along on an upcoming camping trip (you know teenage boys, always bumming out when Mom can't go camping with them).

Enter the titular Boy Next Door, the hunky Noah Sandborn ("Step Up" series veteran Ryan Guzman), who quickly makes himself a fixture at the Peterson household. If he's not doing "guy stuff" with Kevin, he's making eyes at Claire, and one rainy night she hooks up with the strapping young lad.

Big mistake. But rather than exploring the relationship — it should be noted Noah is a student at Claire's school (his character is 19, a quick write-away to avoid any messy legal complications) — "The Boy Next Door" becomes standard stalker fare. Not that much more was to be expected from a January throwaway, but it could have had some fun along the way. Rather than being good-bad, "The Boy Next Door" is just plain bad.



'The Boy Next Door'


Rated R for violence, sexual content/nudity and language.

Running time: 91 minutes