When he won the Oscar for his role in Hannah And Her Sisters, Michael Caine famously was unable to pick up his wee gold man as he was in the Caribbean shooting Jaws: The Revenge, a film so awful it prompted Caine to state years later: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

I don’t believe anyone sets out to make a bad film. Not even Uwe Boll. I genuinely believe that most people involved in making movies see themselves as creative artists just trying to make the best film they can in often hostile circumstances. No one sets out to make a bad movie.

Sure, a lot of movies are bad. Some just end up that way. But a truly bad movie can be a wondrous thing. I’m not just talking about the likes of the Sharknado movies or that one where John Barrowman asks to eat the gal’s pussy. And I’m not talking about the wild demented joy of a movie like The Black Gestapo (a Blaxploitation movie where black militants in SS garb clean up the ‘hood) or The Terror Of Tiny Town (an all-midget Western) or the masterpiece of merde that is Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. And obviously I’m not talking about anything the Wayan Brothers have touched; they’re just irredeemable shit.

I’m talking about big-budget, mainstream films that implode in a blizzard of coke, bad ideas and good intentions. When someone lifts their snout just long enough from the mountain of Peruvian marching powder they’re snorting off a hooker’s ass to exclaim: “Let’s put nipples on the Bat costume!” Or giving $45 million to Paul Verhoeven to make a movie dedicated to his deep and abiding love of tits. Or putting an already ropey-looking Madonna in an erotic thriller where she plays a S&M temptress who drips candle wax on Willem Dafoe’s Li’l Bill. Just think about that for a moment: Willem Dafoe made a film where given the choice between having sex with the Material Girl and having melted wax poured on his penis, he chose a cock scalding. Proper kinky S&M hi-jinks. Not like today when the only person being burned in 50 Shades Of Grey is the audience. These are films that despite their awfulness have a certain campy fun that may not exactly redeem them but it at least makes them entertaining. Which brings us to Jenny From The Block’s tepid erotic thriller The Boy Next Door. The last press screening I went to that had them rolling in the aisles quite so much was Ted. Except Ted was supposed to be funny. And featured a far more realistic sex scene.

Lopez plays Claire Peterson a teacher/soccer mom/hot latina sexpot with a wimpy teenage son, Kevin (Ian Nelson) and a philandering not quite ex-hubby Garrett (John Corbett). Like Ross and Rachel, Claire and Garrett have been on a break for 9 months ever since she discovered his affair with a co-worker who he apparently described in saucy texts as smelling “like chocolate chip cookies.” Trust me guys, nothing gets the ladies moist like comparing them to baked goods. Next time you’re on a date, compliment your inamorata by comparing her to a Mr Kipling apple tart.

Anyway, a new school year is about to begin and English teacher Claire finds herself somewhat aflutter over the old geezer next door’s hunky nephew Noah (Ryan Guzman) who’s just been orphaned in mysterious circumstances and has moved in to care for his uncle. Noah quickly becomes best buds with weedy Kevin, acting as Alpha Male role model by teaching him about car engines and the art of picking up chicks while impressing Claire with his knowledge of “the Classics” (he’s read The Iliad and thinks Achilles is da shit!). And his totally ripped torso and muscular gluts which Claire spies while innocently peering in his window while hanging out in her bedroom behind a gauzy curtain in lingerie and pole dancer shoes.

After a horrendous double date with a capitalist douchbag organised by best friend and school principal Vicki (Kristin Chenoweth playing every shrill, fag hag, BFF stereotype you’ve ever seen), Claire comes home to an empty house (Kev’s on a fishing trip with Dad) and pours herself a glass of wine. As luck would have it, the beefcake next door is having difficulty defrosting a chicken and needs Claire’s advice otherwise he might, you know, starve or something. Several glasses of wine and the chicken later (“Gobble, gobble.”), one thing leads to another and, well, J-Lo has more than the music in her.

Deciding it’s probably not wise to be shagging a student who’s less than half your age and is your dweeby son’s only friend, Claire tries to cool things down, gives Noah the brush off. But unfortunately, in addition to being good with engines and a fan of Homer, Noah’s a full-on obsessive psycho who’s a crack shot, a martial artist and a pretty nifty computer hacker and he’s going to let nothing stand between him and true love…

There’s an ickiness at the heart of The Boy Next Door that the film not only fails to address but sidesteps completely and I’m not just talking about the fact that Noah boffs Claire on what I’m fairly sure was his uncle’s sick bed. I mean Claire giving Noah the kinda home tuition that normally gets you a jail term and a spot on the sex offender’s register if you’re not J-Lo…well, it’s a bit dodgy, isn’t it? Ok, Guzman’s obviously about 30 rather than a teenager and the filmmakers have been a little wooly on his character’s exact age (he missed some school when his parents died) but still…you’d expect when the principal (Chenoweth) found out that her mate had been banging the student body, Claire would at least get a severe talking to. Not that the principal would join forces with her in an attempt to destroy all evidence of impropriety. Imagine the sexes were reversed and the film had been recast with a male actor 45-year-old J-Lo’s age. Let’s say Jack Black. Imagine School Of Rock’s Dewey Finn knobbing a student. It’s just plain wrong.

An erotic thriller that’s neither erotic nor thrilling, The Boy Next Door is simply inept. Noah’s campaign of terror is ludicrous, lurching from distributing dirty pics of him and Claire and sinuendo about how much he loves Claire’s cookies straight to kidnap and murder within a scene. The dialogue is risible and unintentionally amusing, Claire warning Noah to stop following her home from school only for Noah to point out that he lives next door. The performances exhibit a mind-boggling earnestness, as if no one has actually read the script, they’re just being fed lines and scenarios through an earpiece like the unlucky protagonist of A Serbian Film, with only the charismatic Guzman seemingly aware of how dumb the film he’s in is and chewing the scenery accordingly while former Fast And Furious director Rob Cohen only seems to come to life when he get’s to stage a couple of instances of automotive mayhem.

If one moment can sum up a film perhaps it’s this: with puppy dog enthusiasm early in the film, Noah presents Claire with a gilt-covered copy of The Iliad and informs her it’s a first edition. Which would make it 3000 years old and priceless. Hell, I’d shag him for one of those.

I hope someone, maybe Kristen Chenoweth or John Corbett, got a terrific house out of The Boy Next Door.

Movie Review: The Boy Next Door
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