It’s January again, and while there’s some exciting stuff on the limited release front (“Appropriate Behavior,” “The Duke of Burgundy”) and a few pleasant surprises (“Paddington,” “Blackhat“), the month wouldn’t be complete without at least one or two laughably preposterous movies. Right on cue, the Jennifer Lopez movie “The Boy Next Door” comes to sully the screen. The film’s advertisements made it look less like an affair-gone-wrong/stalker thriller and more like the most ill-considered perfume commercial in the history of the world, and NPR’s Linda Holmes pegged the full length trailer as an early contender to be “the funniest trailer of the year,” listing the 20 reasons it had her howling:
11. “It got pretty wet here,” a line apparently memorized from “The Loopy Lunchroom Guide To Single Entendre,” followed by the faint rumbling of a distant Godzilla awakening.
12. J-Lo teaches “AP CLASSICS.” Of course she does. Fortunately, she is armed for this task with glasses.
13. “Sounds like you’ve been hacked.” But at least she’s been hacked in a sophisticated font.
Early reviews suggest that it’s as ludicrous as it looked, with critics calling it a predictable, cliche-ridden thriller with a half-assed explanation for its bad guy’s craziness. Some write that it might provide guilty-pleasure thrills for January audiences, but most agree that it’s not scary nor campy enough to linger. The film does feature a moment where Lopez’s teacher calls a late-1800s copy of “The Iliad” a “first edition,” though, so it might be worth checking out eventually just to laugh at that.
“The Boy Next Door” hits theaters January 23.
Andrew Barker, Variety
Director Rob Cohen is an old hand at straightforward genre product, with a career that stretches from “Miami Vice” to “The Fast and the Furious,” and he helms the Jennifer Lopez-starrer “The Boy Next Door” with the passionless precision of a filmmaker who knows the territory. That might not sound like a fatal flaw, but frankly, a hack might almost have been preferable here, injecting this silly, somnambulant thriller script about a schoolteacher who falls for a psychotic teenager with some sort of panache, distinction or perversion, or even some kind of memorable incompetence to liven up its assembly-line paces. Read more.
John Hazelton, Screen International
Neither star is very physically believable in her/his role and neither manages to imbue his/her character with much in the way of credible emotion. Read more.
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
The screenplay by prosecutor-turned-screenwriter Barbara Curry lays out some heavy-handed background to explain Noah’s derangements and fixations, but everything gives way to full-tilt lunacy, leading to an inevitable showdown, complete with don’t-go-into-the-basement suspense, flat-out torture and implausible heroics. Read more.
What matters, though, is that this is the rare by-the-numbers studio thriller that at least gets the numbers right. The twists come when you expect them, and many stirred an anticipatory laugh from the crowd at my screening: Oh, shit, he’s in the house! Read more.