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The Boy Next Door
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Boy Next Door is a thriller about a deceptively charming stranger who turns into a manipulative, homicidal stalker. It has two fairly graphic sex scenes that include partial nudity (breasts, bottoms), thrusting, the implication of oral sex, and more. There's some innuendo, skimpy nightwear, and general ogling, too. Violence escalates in the final act, with a bloody, gruesome beating and killing (a bloody corpse is seen), characters being tied up and tormented, and the rough treatment of women, including an attempted rape. There's also some bullying. Language isn't constant but is peppered with words including "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y." The movie is quite awful, but Jennifer Lopez fans may want to see it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
High school teacher literature teacher Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) has been raising her teenage son, Kevin (Ian Nelson), on her own since her husband (John Corbett) left her for a younger woman. Then a hunky young neighbor, Noah (Ryan Guzman), who says he's "almost 20," moves in next door to take care of his uncle. One night, Noah seduces the sexy, lonely Claire, even though she knows it's wrong. Afterward, Noah becomes obsessed with her. First he threatens her reputation and her job, and before long he starts manipulating her family. But when Claire's husband makes an attempt to reconcile with her, Noah begins to show homicidal tendencies.
Is it any good?
Director Rob Cohen has made some terrible films, and this one is no exception. Not one thing about THE BOY NEXT DOOR is even remotely credible, much less suspenseful. Characters never once behave as a human being might behave in a similar situation; they're each written and directed to move the plot. A character can turn from respectful and loving to hateful and accusing just because the plot calls for it, not because it feels like an organic, emotional change.
As a result, the movie feels like it's filled with awful performances, not least of which is Guzman (from the Step Up movies). Lopez comes out the best, which isn't saying much. Mainly she's posed wearing flattering outfits and flaunting soft hair. The "deceptively charming neighbor" plot is used quite often in thrillers; a movie like The Guest shows how it can work, but THE BOY NEXT DOOR is one of the worst examples (only slightly better than No Good Deed).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Boy Next Door's violence. How much of it is directed at women? What attitude does the movie have toward women? Is the violence meant to be thrilling?
How much sex is shown? How is it shown? Is it meant to be titillating, or does it have an emotional impact?
How are bullies shown and treated in this movie? What are other ways to deal with bullies?