Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson
“Jenny from the Block” has always been a singer and an actress. A jack of all trades, so to say, and had at least a theoretical chance to get the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). Lately it has become quiet around her.
The role of Claire Peterson, the one she returned with now, might seem to be designed slightly stereotyped, but it bears everything to be fascinating for a woman in her forties: it deals with an older single mother (the experts refer to this as a cougar), who falls for a younger man, after having been cheated on by her husband – the whole package. Given that she can only stand out, can’t she?
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work that way. Who would have thought, that this is first and foremost due to J.Lo’s lack of skill? To remind you: Even Kevin Smith failed to tame or rather to get a few badly prepared sentences out of Lopez, in his critically underrated rom-com “Jersey Girl”. While “The Cell” and “Out of Sight” are admittedly fairly good films – this is arguably rather in spite of Jennifer Lopez, than due to her.
It would be unfair to claim, that “Boy Next Door” would be adversely affected by Jennifer Lopez. The movie is nothing but a crude sequence of the most clichéd psycho-thriller-stereotypes. Hence, halfway through this review, I can’t keep myself from issuing a warning:
DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE! DON’T EVEN STREAM IT!
The solely interesting conclusion is, that Hollywood-writer-brains even today equate the story “older woman and younger guy” with the original sin. Claire Peterson nearly wrecks her family through her night of passion with Noah Sandborn (who will become her student later on). This is due to the fact that the storyline has to classify this night of passion as a horrible wrongdoing at all costs. While Claire’s husband, who cheated on her for a long time, gets swiftly back in her good grace, everything around Claire drifts toward the edge of the abyss because of her actions – her grand deceit drags the story’s credibility with itself. Even the fact that Noah breaks a classmate’s skull does not result in his expulsion from school or a police investigation, because of the movie’s strange inner logic, only Claire can serve as the culprit of this, too. Instead of developing anxieties, her feelings of guilt manifest more violently.
The list of scenes, bearing distortions of reality to the disadvantage of the main character, is long. The salvation of Claire and her family can only occur when the family reconvenes. The self-sacrificing husband, the struggling son, and Claire, who is (accidentally?) brave, are able to cheat death. But only by sticking together. It is only now, in the moment that Claire gets that only the unity of a family holds the world together in its inmost folds, that the agent provocateur (the devil symbolized as a young, alluring man) can be defeated.
By this the fundamentally enthralling dispositif of “older woman – younger man” becomes nothing else but a farce.
(Translation from the German version by Denise Oemcke)