'Boy Next Door' is Perfect for Hate-Watching But Here's Why You Should Still Take It Seriously
It's no secret that January, right after awards season but before the time for blockbusters, is usually the dumping ground for studios' dullest movies. This is the month when D-list horror fare, inane romantic comedies, and action movie threequels take over the theaters and force Netflix into high-demand. Occasionally, though, there's reason to believe that the month won't be all bad, such as last year's The Lego Movie or 1995's Before Sunrise. 2015, however, is not one of those years, thanks to the double whammy of two terrible-looking movies, Mortdecai and The Boy Next Door.
Although I'll admit I haven't seen either movie, I can safely say that there is no good reason to take a chance on Mortdecai. Judging from the ridiculous ads and awful, sexist plot (no, "leggy wife" is not a character description), the Johnny Depp film is likely to be about as entertaining as the mustaches on its posters — in other words, not at all.
Yet that's not the case for The Boy Next Door , the Jennifer Lopez-starring thriller about a one-night-stand gone wrong. Sure, the movie looks pretty awful, with its laughable acting, awkward editing, and terrible dialogue ("I like your mother's cookies"), and it's understandable that moviegoers might want to hate-watch the crap out of it. Despite its flaws, though, Boy actually has some redeeming qualities to make it worth watching for real, such as:
It Features a Latina Protagonist
After an awards season that highlighted the disturbing lack of diversity in Hollywood, it's refreshing to see a movie featuring a Latina heroine whose life and personality don't seem to revolve solely around her ethnicity or be filled with tired stereotypes. When Hispanic actors only made up 4.9% of speaking roles in the top 100 grossing movies of 2013, a movie like this, quality aside, is hugely important.
It Reverses an Old Stereotype
Older man seducing much younger woman? We've seen that a thousand times (as in Magic in the Moonlight, above), and I think I can speak for all when I say I'm tired of it. Thankfully, The Boy Next Door takes that trope and reverses it, making the movie's plot revolve around a middle-aged woman (Lopez is 45)'s affair with her teenage neighbor. Is it healthy? No. But at least it's change.
The Protagonist Likes Sex, and It Doesn't Make Her Terrible
Like the cliche discussed above, the "woman wants sex so clearly she's crazy/evil" movie character (which Easy A, above, ridiculed) is sexist and outdated. Instead of making Lopez's character, Claire, suffer for having a healthy sex drive (although it would've been nice if she chose to use it with someone her own age, but I digress), the film places its focus on the craziness of the man involved. By having Ryan Guzman's Noah sleep with Claire and become dangerously obsessed with her, Boy, unlike so many other movies, doesn't demonize its heroine's sexuality.
It Supports Actors You Love
Sorry, JLo, but I don't mean you. The Boy Next Door gives a lead role to Guzman, best known to Pretty Little Liars fans as Jake, the guy responsible for keeping Aria and Ezra apart in season 4. There's also the beloved Kristin Chenoweth as Claire's best friend, and while I wish she had better roles on her plate, I'm just happy to see her in anything. Even this.
It's Written By a Woman
A man, Rob Cohen, directed the film, but it's a woman, Barbara Curry, who created the story. Of course, female involvement doesn't always mean high-quality feminist plots — The Other Woman , anyone? — but it's always good to support a woman trying to make it in Hollywood. Perhaps if Boy does well, it'll allow Curry to write more movies down the line, ones that hopefully won't involve the line "It got pretty wet here" while the character winks in full view of everyone else. I mean, COME ON.
Images: Universal (3); Sony Pictures Classics; Sony; ABC Family