Boy Next Door
the feel and the ingredients of a made-for-television movie. It's written by a
first-time screenwriter. The interest depends on predictable plot twist, the
performances are barely adequate, the action is telegraphed beforehand, and the
good guys win in the end, though not without some struggle. The difference is
that we have a real A-list star, Jennifer Lopez, though admittedly her film
career has been a bit uneven (everything from the high of “Selena” to the
low of “Gigli”). Since she is also the Executive Producer, it's not
difficult to imagine her instructions to the Director: I want to look sexy all
the time, and I will even do sex scenes, but without actually showing anything.
I will be an attractive and competent professional who is also a great Mom, and
I will endear myself to my audience by trying to forgive my philandering but
remorseful estranged husband. Oh, and I will succumb to a moment of weakness,
because I’m human, but the consequences won't really be my fault.
(Ms. Lopez) is a high school literature teacher. She loves the classics, but
she's not been all that successful in making her own teenaged son, Kevin (Ian
Nelson) to love them as she does. But when the old guy next door suddenly
introduces a young nephew moving in to help take care of him, the handsome Noah
(Ryan Guzman) not only loves Homer's “Iliad,” he also teaches Kevin how to
fix a car engine, and even helps Claire with the balky garage door. He's polite,
well-mannered, and just seems too good to be true, which of course he is. Once
he starts obsessing about you, there's no limit to what he'll do to
there are a few jump-out-and-startle moments, and a bit of grisly personal
violence at the end, not to mention the heavy-breathing episodes in the middle.
The point is supposed to be the importance of families sticking together, but
there are certainly more sublime ways to convey the same message. This one is a
titillator: cheap thrills and cheesy characters. With so many Oscar-worthy
performances currently available on the big screen, this one should be allowed
to devolve to DVD and just go away quietly.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the
Parish Associate, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church,