Rob Cohen

The Boy Next Door Movie

Some movies are so much better than the sum of their parts that they defy easy explanation. A director suddenly shifts his visual style; an actor shows a previously unknown knack for comedy or drama; a screenwriter breathes life into a property we all assumed was dead. We marvel at the result, talk about how it never should have happened, and praise those involved for safeguarding their creativity against the corporate machinations of the industry. These films demonstrate the success of art in the face of commerce. And then there are movies like The Boy Next Door, which could only exist in a place like Hollywood. It takes a special kind of ignorance to think that Jennifer Lopez and Kristin Chenoweth’s characters are believable as best friends or that the 27-year-old Ryan Guzman would get carded in a bar, let alone be a high school student. This is a film that sets up the titular boy next door as being a caretaker for his elderly uncle and then forgets about the uncle for almost the entire film. It’s the kind of movie that thinks it’s clever because the cat jumps out and the body falls from the closet at the same time. You know what, though? It’s not wrong. Great movies happen when everyone is on the same page. Great B-movies happen when nobody is. And The Boy Next Door is a pretty great B-movie.


Universal Pictures

In October 2012, Alex Cross was promoted by the full faith an effort of Summit Entertainment as a would-be hit. Before the film was even released, Double Crossed, another book in James Patterson’s detective series, had been greenlit to follow shortly after, making Alex Cross the inaugural entry in a franchise organized around Tyler Perry as the titular character. But Alex Cross grossed only $25 million against a modest $35 million budget, and was subject to blisteringly poor reviews that called out the film’s ineptitude and its miscasting of Perry. Eric Hynes of The Village Voice deemed Alex Cross “a strong candidate for the dumbest film of the year.” The highly visible critical and financial failure of the film effectively put to rest any plans to franchise the series. Filmmaker Rob Cohen’s helming of Alex Cross was labeled “inept,” and its poor performance effectively prevented its studio from its franchising goals. In some circumstances, such a rollout could seriously threaten the career of a director. Yet here we are, slightly over two years later, and Rob Cohen has another Hollywood film coming out in ten days, the Jennifer Lopez-starring thriller The Boy Next Door.



The late 80s and early 90s were a golden age of ridiculous action movies that were so cheesy and bad, to look at them with modern eyes makes one wonder just what was going through everyone involved’s heads when they made them. For whatever reason the world was hungry for action during that period though, and the more faux badass the hero was and the more unbelievable the violence was, the better. Perhaps the ultimate example of late 80s, early 90s action cheese was director Rowdy Herrington’s (yep, real name) 1989 Patrick Swayze-starrer, Road House. It had everything that a so-bad-it’s-good action movie needed to be a success at the time: macho posturing, homoerotic fight sequences, random female nudity, throats getting ripped out, you name it. Despite the fact that Road House wasn’t really good enough to be remembered because of actual merit, years of ironic viewings on college campuses and late night repeat airings on TBS have kept it alive in the hearts and minds of movie fans, to the point where you can probably refer to it as a cult classic. And for some reason MGM seems to think that’s reason enough to try to capitalize off its notoriety with a remake.



Jennifer Lopez has accomplished a lot of things over the course of her career as an entertainer. She’s been a dancer, an actress, a recording artist, and even a reality TV personality. But a new report out of Variety is saying that she’s just taken a new job that’s now going to see her attempting to do the impossible: she’s going to have to try to seduce a hormone-filled teenage boy using little more than her world-renowned sex appeal and shapely figure. Truly, this is going to be her most challenging endeavor to date. The seduction is all set to take place in a low-budget thriller called The Boy Next Door, which is being put together by successful horror producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, The Purge), and which reportedly has Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, Alex Cross) in negotiations to direct.



Alex Cross is not a good movie. There’s no singular reason as to why that is, but you can take your pick from the messy script to the casting of Tyler Perry in the title role as a police detective previously played by Morgan Freeman. Director Rob Cohen sat down to record a commentary for the Blu-ray/DVD which hits shelves next week, and he speaks highly of his film, his cast and crew while detailing the making of the film. He makes it very clear that he’d like the series to continue too, so tell everyone you know to buy a copy. Keep reading to see what I heard with this week’s Alex Cross Commentary Commentary…



Alex Cross director Rob Cohen has never been one what could label a “critical darling.” There are a few notable exceptions in Cohen’s filmography, like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story or The Rat Pack, but even his most successful and well-liked blockbusters – xXx and The Fast and the Furious – didn’t get much love from the critical community. To Cohen, that doesn’t matter so much, especially if the audience eats it up. A bad review may hurt Cohen, as he compares it to someone calling your baby the ugliest baby of all, but it won’t ever match the power of having a mass audience enjoying one of his popcorn movies. Obviously Alex Cross, his latest film starring the box office overlord Tyler Perry, hasn’t been met with a kind response thus far. Considering who Cohen wisely cast in the lead, those reviews won’t matter much when he sees this weekend’s box-office receipts. Here’s what Rob Cohen had to say about crafting Alex Cross‘s bug-eyed villain, critics, his love for Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, and why Raiders of the Lost Ark wouldn’t get made today:


Alex Cross Tyler Perry Matthew Fox

You’d think a thriller about a brilliantly dogged detective matching wits with a sadistically smart serial killer would be at least somewhat entertaining. You’d be right in thinking that too, and if that’s the kind of film you’re looking for I recommend Memories of Murder, Copycat or Seven to fill your needs. Because there’s nothing about the new film Alex Cross that comes even close to brilliant, smart or intentionally entertaining. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a homicide detective and doctor (of some kind but probably a psychologist) in Detroit who’s grown weary of his police beat and is considering taking an adviser role with the FBI. Before he can convince his pregnant wife that the move to Washington DC is in their best interest he’s tasked with solving a multiple murder with a tortured woman at its center. Cross’ team includes his childhood friend, Det. Tommy Kane (Ed Burns), and the young but talented Det. Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), and their target is a determined and very capable killer whose name changes with the turn of the script’s page. Picasso aka the Four Roses Killer aka Cadillac spokesperson (Matthew Fox) is targeting high-ranking executives, but after he’s almost caught during an attempted hit he turns his focus towards Cross and friends. It doesn’t take long before you’ll start wishing him the best of luck.


matthew fox

It’s fair to say Matthew Fox is still in a transitional period post-LOST. After six years on the air, the rapid fanbase, and ending on that hugely divisive note, it’s naturally going to take time moving away from a show that big. Picasso, the egotistical psychotic assassin at the center of Alex Cross, is certainly a role which could assist Fox in that department. The actor transforms himself somewhat similarly to the way he did a few years ago with Speed Racer, a box office bomb he rightfully calls far ahead of its time. Racer X and Picasso may not be share personality traits, but both characters rely heavily on Fox’s physicality. As anyone can see in Alex Cross, making a transformation in achieving that physicality is a challenge the star embraces. Here’s what actor Matthew Fox had to say about defending a psychopath, avoiding villainous monologues, and his love for Speed Racer:


Korean War correspondent Marguerite Higgins 2 1950

For the past decade or so Rob Cohen has made a career out of doing films that people’s little brothers would like. From The Fast and the Furious, to xXx, to Stealth, all of the guy’s work epitomizes the sort of aesthetic that can make a 15-year-old boy look up from his portable gaming system and go, “that looks pretty cool.” So what do you imagine his next film is going to be about? Snow boarding assassins, drag racing bikini models, or President Obama declaring that homework is outlawed? No, not even close. Try, the Korean War. With 1950, Cohen will be telling the life story of Marguerite Higgins. She was a journalist working for the New York Herald Tribune as their Far East bureau chief and is something of a feminist figure. Higgins was banned by the US Army from covering the war in Korea because she was a woman, but eventually became so persistent in her intentions to do so that she not only got to cover the war like all of her male colleagues, she also got permission from Douglas MacArthur to work on the front lines.



Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: if you don’t leave now, it’s consensual. This is the part of the internet where your intrepid host (or, in this case, your intrepid host’s wife) dons her finest Middle Age-y costume, unsheathes her silver Nerf sword and just starts whaling on an awful, maleficent movie. And yet–probably as a consequence of some ambiguous plot device early in my childhood–I check the killing stroke, throw down my weapon and extend my hand in peace to this humbled, repentant film. I cement our bond by throwing a feast in its honor and invite our reader (yes, singular) to indulge in a snack specially tailored to the film: not only not fit for a king, but probably not legal in any monarchical government. This week’s mistake of draconian proportions: Dragonheart



Alex Cross is a reoccurring character in the novels of James Patterson. His stories have already been adapted for the screen a couple times with Morgan Freeman playing the lead role. Those films were Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Well now the character is looking to get a reboot with Tyler Perry as the lead. It’s old news that I, Alex Cross is being directed by xXx and The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen, but there is some new casting news to report. Mathew Fox has signed on in a key role as an assassin. Add to that the fact that Ed Burns is going to play Cross’ assistant Tommy Kane, and this looks like a movie that is starting to come together. But I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think a lot of people have been trained to see Tyler Perry’s name and treat it as a joke, but he’s made some things that are more dramatic than those cheesy black family sitcoms and cross dressing Madea movies that he is known for. And I saw him act in Star Trek and it wasn’t bad. Rob Cohen’s movies I can’t really defend, but they’ve managed to make a lot of money from what I can tell. Still, just give me those two names and I, Alex Cross sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.



Remember when we reported this back in 2008? Apparently it’s still true. Just letting you know!



Columbia Pictures is in talks with producer Joe Roth for a new version of xXx, one that would bring back star Vin Diesel and director Rob Cohen. The question is: why?



Due to the overwhelming audience response to the recent The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Rob Cohen and friends are already planning (threatening?) to birth a fourth film in the family friendly franchise.



It’s another mummy to fight, but this time from ancient China. Break out a pack of Tsingtao and toast to the new version of the mummy, with Maria Bello, no less.


Monster Squad Group Shot

See, that’s the perfect example of a tricky title. If you’re like me, a huge fan of the original Fred Dekker 1987 classic Monster Squad you’re probably hoping for news of a sequel. If you’re a cynic, you may have automatically just assumed that this was, yes, a remake.

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published: 01.26.2015
B-, C-
published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015

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