The Boy Next Door (15)**

Jennifer Lopez gets to grips with co-star Ryan Guzman
Jennifer Lopez gets to grips with co-star Ryan Guzman
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Never trust a good-looking stranger with your heart.

The Boy Next Door harks back to a bygone era of jeopardy thrillers when Michael Douglas met his match in Glenn Close’s bunny boiler and naive Bridget Fonda discovered you should never share living space with a single white female.

Alas, Rob Cohen’s hokey yarn is more Facile Distraction than Fatal Attraction, courtesy of a clumsy, cliche-riddled script by Barbara Curry that fails to generate suspense.

It doesn’t help her cause that 27-year-old leading man Ryan Guzman, has to pass muster as a high school senior.

‘I’m almost 20,’ explains his character, inciting hoots of derision that become commonplace as the plot goes through predictable motions.

Co-star Jennifer Lopez fares just as badly but with her additional credit as producer, she is granted carte blanche to look fierce and fabulous as an English literature teacher, who espouses Greek classics in figure-hugging skirts and heels. Lopez plays Claire Peterson, who is separated from her cheating husband (John Corbett).

Potty-mouthed pal Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth), urges Claire to sign the divorce papers but she hesitates for the sake of their teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson).

That changes when strapping Noah Sandborn (Guzman) moves in next door.

‘His parents died last year. I’m all he’s got in the way of family,’ explains Noah’s great-uncle (Jack Wallace).

One night of ill-advised passion lights the fuse on Noah’s obsession and when Claire informs him that their romp was a booze-fuelled mistake, he responds by papering her classroom with explicit images and making suggestive comments about her cookies. Mary Berry would be mortified.

With a touch of tongue-in-cheek, The Boy Next Door might have achieved cult status like Basic Instinct and Showgirls. Regrettably, Cohen’s film is deadly serious apart from Chenoweth’s fleeting comic relief.

And Lopez doesn’t convince as an educator of hormone-addled teenage minds.