“The Boy Next Door” proves to be the typical January major release.
Despite the presence of a pretty big star – Jennifer Lopez – it’s a film sunk by an awful script, where dumb people keep doing things for the sake of the plot. It’s the kind of movie that probably could have been at least entertaining if it was a little more campy, but the dead serious tone makes it rather dreadful.
Lopez plays Claire, a high school teacher on the verge of divorce trying to raise her teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson).
When a handsome boy named Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door, Claire is tempted – despite the fact he is enrolling in the school where she teaches.
The temptation leads to a one-night tryst that Claire tries immediately to distance herself from. The more she tries to bury the past, the more she begins to realize that Noah isn’t what he appears to be – and has a checkered and violent past.
“The Boy Next Door” is the kind of film that takes time to lessen the creepy factor of the affair by making Noah a 20-year-old high school student, but then proceeds to have Noah do things that most 20-year-olds would get arrested for and not just expelled from school.
It’s also hard to believe that Lopez wouldn’t have guys beating down her door after her husband leaves, especially when she prances around in what amounts to something for a page of Victoria’s Secret catalog. This does not look like a woman struggling to pick up the pieces of her marriage.
Guzman is OK but is really given nothing more to do than take his shirt off and smile a lot.
John Corbett, as Claire’s husband, and Kristen Chenoweth, as Claire’s best friend, are wasted in supporting roles that basically serve as pawns to set up a predictable confrontation in the final act.
It’s all a glorified mess, more boring than thrilling.
Also in theaters
An even bigger big studio dud (at least in terms of box office) is “Mortdecai” (D+), the latest comedy from Johnny Depp.
It tries way too hard, getting very few laughs out of a usually pretty reliable cast.
Depp plays the title character, an English art dealer who gets caught up in a quest to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain a code that leads to lost Nazi gold.
It all plays like a second rate version of “Austin Powers,” with Depp piling on a thick British accent while twirling his handlebar mustache (which serves as the punchline for way too many failed gags).
The cast also includes Gwyneth Paltrow as Mortdecai’s wife, Ewan McGregor as an English agent and Olivia Munn, but they are given little to do except to play off Depp’s rather odd performance.
The one person that stands out is Paul Bettany as Mortdecai’s man-servant. He provides most of the film’s laughs as the gruff, womanizing sidekick, given the film its one spark.
Without Bettany, “Mortdecai” would have been a complete disaster. With him it is at least slightly less than awful.
“Mortdecai” is rated R for some language and sexual material and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.
— To read Micheal Compton’s thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at www.bgdailynews.com/sports/blogs/straight_outta_compton or on Twitter at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.