The Boy Next Door is a 2015 stalker thriller starring Jennifer Lopez. It’s about a woman who falls in love with a teenager only to learn he’s homicidal. It’s not too different from Fatal Attraction or Basic Instinct.
Except for one scene. The Boy Next Door contains a sequence so preposterous it stands as one of the great historical errors in movies. Somehow, Hollywood made an error which some middle-schoolers could identify.
A Jennifer Lopez movie, Greek poetry, and a hilariously inaccurate scene
First, a brief history lesson. The Iliad is an epic Greek poem attributed to the legendary poet Homer. It’s one of the most revered poems ever written. It was composed around 762 B.C. The Iliad originally was carried down through oral tradition before being written down.
The poem’s age makes a scene in The Boy Next Door baffling. In the scene, Noah Sandborn (played by Ryan Guzman) gives Claire Peterson (played by Lopez) a first-edition copy of the Iliad. It looks like any other old book you might see at a yard sale.
This makes no sense. There are no existent “first editions” of the Iliad. If they existed, they’d be on some sort of papyrus. They surely wouldn’t look like every other book in your local thrift store.
How critics and fans reacted to this scene
Many critics and fans found the scene hilarious. To many, it seemed inexplicable. The sequence certainly didn’t help The Boy Next Door‘s poor critical standing.
Interestingly, The Boy Next Door had some influence on consumers. The film was released to theaters in Jan. 2015. From then to Feb. 2015, numerous customers looked for first-edition copies of the Iliad on AbeBooks.
Did these consumers really think a first-edition copy of the Iliad was just a mouseclick away? Richard Davies of AbeBooks felt customers were just interested in finding the edition of the Iliad Lopez’s character received as a gift. Oddly enough, AbeBooks didn’t seem to have a copy of that edition, leading Davies to wonder if the copy in the film was just a prop. Annie Brandt, one of the film’s propmasters, said the edition of the Iliad used in the film was real.
The movie’s director speaks out
In this age of social media, filmmakers often respond directly to critiques of their films. Rob Cohen, the director of The Boy Next Door, was no exception. Cohen said he wrote the scene into the film’s script.
According to BuzzFeed, he said there was an upside to all the criticism the film received. “That tells me they’re watching and listening and thinking and they’re engaged; even if they think we’re idiots, I’m not an idiot. I’m a book collector and I know about first editions.”
Cohen said he was fully aware original copies of the Iliad don’t exist. He was trying to say that Lopez’s character received a copy of the Iliad which was the first edition of a new reprint. This makes total sense. Maybe an extra line or two in the script would have clarified his intentions.
Also see: Could Jennifer Lopez Be the Next Batman?