Noah is a stupendously underwritten antagonist. He is only characterized by three things: his sudden rage, the strange denim-shirt-and-tie combo that he wears to school every day (yet we are still to believe he’s a badass), and the fact that he is skilled at everything (kickboxing, shooting guns, hacking, memorizing classic books, fixing garages and cars, using a printer, seducing older women, and manipulating his peers). Aside from the vague mother issues that plague all antagonists like Noah, the movie never attempts to explain why he is the way he is. But, in a way, no explanation is even necessary.
The Boy Next Door is not about explanations. It does not care to ask questions or provide answers. It does not concern itself with following up on plot points that are haphazardly thrown in and abandoned. It doesn’t have to, because it is so beautifully trashy and off-the-wall that you won’t care whether it makes sense.
And there is so much that doesn’t seem to make sense, though I suppose it’s possible I was laughing so hard at some moments that I missed a few explanations. Why does Noah fly off the handle so quickly? Why doesn’t Claire just get help in the first place? At one point, did her son have an allergy attack from boxing? Did he punch a bee? What was the point of the video plot, or the cheating girlfriend plot, or the expulsion plot? How can you give someone a first edition of The Iliad? What is with everyone’s obsessions with cookies? Didn’t Jennifer Lopez learn any self-defense from Enough? By the time we get to the “thrilling” finale — it’s a violent but predictable ending, if you happened to note the Oedipus Rex quote written on the chalkboard earlier; this movie was apparently written by a high school freshman — there are far more questions than answers, but you’ve missed everything that’s great about this movie if you still care about that by then.
The disappointment of the ending has less to do with the movie being terrible than with the movie being so much fun to watch, right up to the moment it’s over. At no point during The Boy Next Door was I bored. It’s the trashy thriller that you watch On Demand after a few beers, but I recommend seeing it in the theater with friends, so you can giggle your way through it together. It’s hard to make a good movie, but it might be harder to make a movie that is this entertaining in its badness.