The Boy Next Door
Claire knows a thing or two about mistakes. Her philandering hubby made one—repeatedly—with a San Francisco treat. Sure, Garrett says he's sorry, and he should be. But in the realm of mistakes, that's a pretty big 'un, so Claire punts his cheating heart to the curb for a bit while she ponders whether she made a mistake by marrying the guy.
It's a vulnerable time for Claire, who already had plenty to worry about. The school year's just around the corner, and Claire—a high school lit teacher—has to figure out a way to get her pupils jazzed about The Iliad. Her high school-age son, Kevin, is occasionally bullied. Oh, and she has a new, handsome, highly distracting neighbor.
Noah seems nice enough at first. He's moved in to help Claire's aged neighbor, Mr. Sandborn, through a bone marrow transplant. The young man has a deep respect for classic literature, too—a feather in his Elizabethan cap, as far as Claire's concerned. And he hasn't been in the neighborhood more than five minutes before he and Kevin are the best of friends. Does it matter that Noah's nearly 20 (and still finishing high school) while Kevin's face is still looking for its first date with a razor? Of course not. We must not be petty, and Claire's just happy that Kevin's found a chum.
But while Noah might like Kevin, he has a much different sort of affection for Claire. He dreamily runs his eyes across her body. He tells her how sexy she is in their stolen moments together. He's hot for teacher, and he wants her to know it.
Claire knows any sort of interlude with Noah would be wrong on every conceivable level. She's still married, after all. And having sex with a high school student, even if he is nearly 20, is almost guaranteed to get you a mention on Fox News … and fired. But Noah, what with his Narcissus eyes and superhero abs, can be quite persuasive. And one night over a botched chicken dinner, the hunky guy goes to work.
"No judgments," he says as he kisses her. "No rules. Just us."
Everyone makes mistakes. But some mistakes are bigger than others. Especially when you make one with a pretty but seriously psychopathic neighbor.
At least Claire feels horrible about her big mistake immediately thereafter and tries hard to get her priorities back on track. And what are those? Her son, first of all. She loves him and wants the best for him. She has a lingering love for her wayward husband, too. And she and Garrett actually do work toward trying to fix whatever went wrong with their marriage.
Noah's clearly 98% bad. But that other 2% prompts him to boost Kevin's confidence and defend the younger guy when he's bullied. (He does it by almost killing the kid's attacker, but we'll put off that subject till later.) He even saves Kevin's life. (A gesture somewhat mitigated, of course, by the fact that he tries to kill him later.)
No definitely doesn't mean no for Claire. She tells Noah no a whole bunch of times as they commence their encounter, but he doesn't stop, and she doesn't really seem to want him to. What follows is an intensely sensual and erotic onscreen sex scene. He strips off her clothes, groping and fondling her pretty much everywhere. Only his hands hide parts of her breasts from the camera's view, and it's implied he gives her oral sex. Unbeknownst to Claire, Noah records their sexual session and later prints hundreds of pictures of them (some of which we see). He's taken other clandestine photos (and video) of her as well, eventually using them to blackmail her.
Noah has sex with someone else, too, and we see them fully nude (her from the front, waist up, him from the side). It's clear that she performs oral sex on him. We see Claire kissing and getting hot and heavy with her estranged husband at one point.
Claire spies on Noah from her window, ogling the guy as he undresses. We see his bare backside, see her walking around in skimpy nightgowns, etc. A man leers at a waitress's cleavage. Another ogles a woman as she lifts her skirt. Raunchy double entendres and sexual allusions are thrown around. "Advice" is given about oral sex. Crude references are made to infidelity, and there's talk of erectile dysfunction.
Noah attacks Claire sexually in a school bathroom, pinning her to the wall and forcibly thrusting against her. She knees him in the crotch to get away. When Claire tells Noah that their night together was indeed a mistake, he punches a wall, causing his knuckles to bleed. He nearly kills Kevin's tormentor, slamming the boy's head repeatedly into a locker and against the floor before someone pulls him off. (We later hear that the boy went to the hospital with a fractured skull.)
A woman is killed. (When Claire finds her, her face and torso are covered in blood.) It's implied that another murder is committed by way of a rigged minivan exploding. The brakes go out in another tampered-with vehicle, leading to an accident and nearly a deadly tragedy.
An eye gets stabbed with an EpiPen (which then sticks grotesquely out of the socket). That eye is then "run through" with the assailant's finger (which we see up close). People are hit, kicked, bonked by long pieces of metal, choked, bashed in the groin, and crushed with the live-action equivalent of huge ACME safes. Folks are bloodied and tied up. Someone gets shot in the shoulder.
Kevin's severe allergy attack is finally halted when Noah jabs him in the chest with the EpiPen.
Crude or Profane Language
A dozen f-words (some used sexually, one written), about six s-words and one c-word. We also hear "p---y," "c--k," "a--," "h---" and "p---," among other crudities. God's name is misused more than a dozen times, sometimes with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Claire and others drink wine. Garrett drives drunk.
Other Negative Elements
Bullies call Kevin "Whiz," a nickname stemming from an incident years earlier where he lost control of his bladder during an allergy attack.
Claire spends a huge amount of time and energy trying to keep her one-night fling with Noah a secret. That's wrong in an of itself, of course. But toward the end of the movie, when it becomes clear Noah might be trying to kill the people she loves and still she doesn't tell the police, well, that's not just wrong, it's ludicrous.
Noah, Kevin and others drive exceedingly dangerously at times. Perhaps we can credit that to the influence of director Rob Cohen, best known for steering The Fast and the Furious.
Everybody makes mistakes, it's true. Take this movie, for example. Hundreds of people had a hand in creating this mistake. And as a reviewer forced to watch the result, all I can hope is that they've now learned their lesson and don't ever repeat it.
The Boy Next Door is meant to be a thriller, but it veers dangerously close to sex-soaked comedy—a campy send-up filled with ludicrous one-liners and oh-so-predictable jump scenes. This isn't just a waste of 90 perfectly good minutes. It's an obliteration of them.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson; Ryan Guzman as Noah Sandborn; Ian Nelson as Kevin; John Corbett as Garrett; Kristin Chenoweth as Vicky
January 23, 2015
April 28, 2015