Dave's Rating:

0.0

Insert sex joke here.

It begins with a male bicep. Then a female thigh takes over. Her shoulder; his nipple; a forearm; a sweaty neck. Human beings are body parts in The Boy Next Door, and each flash of horned-up, disconnected flesh is the movie’s idea of dutiful foreplay before delivering the catalyzing event, which is also communicated via close-ups of discrete parts. That event involves a pair of asses, one belonging to Jennifer Lopez, the other to Ryan Guzman (Step Up Revolution, Step Up All In). Together they are competing in a buttocks contest, and it is possibly the PG-13-iest sex scene in recent R-rated movie history.

Guzman, overnight, becomes violently obsessed with Lopez, who teaches “the classics” at a local high school (they way these two discuss literature – “Dude, you gotta read The Iliad” -- will crack up any person who has ever touched a book). He punches a wall and bloodies his own knuckles, presenting them to her like a trophy. He hacks her computer in order to be assigned to her class (he’s 19 but needs to finish high school, allowing the film to side-step any jailbaity ickiness). He befriends her teenage son (Ian Nelson) and estranged husband (John Corbett). He intrudes. He threatens. He makes really clever sex-jokes about rain being wet when he’s really talking about… you know… other wet things. Then he escalates his badness in ways I will not spoil here.

Only know that the sex, that initial come-on, is the least of it. The film really kicks into gear when the plot abandons sweaty bump-n-grind and then further abandons commonly understood ideas about laws and what happens when you break them. It also discards human customs like conversations used to explain problems to friends and family. Director Rob Cohen and screenwriter Barbara Curry don’t care about that stuff. They are committed to creating nonsensical, softcore, anxiety porn, full of horror movie mini-jolts and adolescent sight gags connecting various pastries to sex. Any one of these dumb moments might elicit eyerolls; taken as a whole, however, it’s highly entertaining.

In fact, the movie leaps highest when it’s working hard to be the best hot garbage it can be. The actors recite their lines and look scared or menacing. They’re all better than this, but it doesn’t matter. The characters and their actions – a smart woman who behaves stupidly, a teenage libido as unstoppable boogeyman – are pawns in the movie’s bigger game: visceral stupidity, an atomic wedgie of sex-shame, an old-fashioned warning never to leave the comforts of home and family for a quick boning session with sexy neighbors. As a moral story, it is unconcerned with humanity, and in spite of its innate preachiness, it has no real sense of right or wrong. It is the enemy of reason and nuance and thought. It's terrible. And that’s why it’s so much fun.

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