Nothing is worth doing if you’re going to do it half-assed. That’s what I’ve always been told. If you’re going to play a sport, strive for Hall Of Fame greatness. If you’re going to become a chef, cook gourmet delicacies. If you’re going to create a sexy, diabolical thriller starring two hot bodies, you’d better be capitalizing on steamy, scintillating chills so en fuego that they’d melt theater screens. Makes sense, right?
Well, director Elizabeth Allen and writer Chris Frisina might beg to differ, given how their Nick Jonas hookup-gone-wrong film – Careful What You Wish For – dully delivers on a disappointing level. This is the movie I feared The Boy Next Door would turn out to be, so incapable of channeling an inherent campiness that could have otherwise been molded into a tempting genre treat. Nope – Allen shoots straight as an arrow here, unable to carve salacious booty-callin’ intrigue from wooden, bland-as-blah performances. Not a single actor seems tuned-in to the fun they could be having (unlike Ryan Guzman improvising the “cookies” line on The Boy Next Door), which makes for a limp, half-cocked product that misses the boat on every form of possible excitement.
Except if you like a few Nick Jonas butt shots.
The youngest JoBro stars as Doug Martin, a horndog teen who settles in for another lakefront summer vacation. Alongside his best bud Carson (Graham Rogers), Doug spends his days bar-backing, checking out hot co-eds and talking about how much poon he’s going to slay – until a wealthy neighbor changes everything. Elliot Harper (Dermot Mulroney) introduces himself and immediately offers Doug a job fixing his boat, but Elliot’s words fall on deaf ears once his wife Lena (Isabel Lucas) enters the room. Doug immediately knows what he wants, and after a chance twist of fate sends Elliot away on business for a weekend, the immature boy becomes a man – with another man’s wife. It goes without saying that Lena’s infidelity must be kept secret, which becomes harder and harder as her passion overtakes Doug. So much for a normal summertime fling…
Or, more appropriately, so much for another silly “LET’S GET LAID” thriller that blue-balls with the best of ’em.
Right off the bat, we’re beaten to death by stone-faced cliches. Doug is portrayed as a wide-eyed, “geeky” virgin, Carson rambles on and on about how much awesome sex he’s going to have (on a dirty mattress laid in a secluded boathouse), and Elliot drops vaguely innuendo-ish hints (THIS HASN’T BEEN CAULKED THOROUGHLY, DOUG!). Yet, there’s a sad lack of self-awareness, and none of the actors do anything to elevate otherwise cookie-cutter genre performances. When you think about movies like Cruel Intentions or Wild Things, there’s such a vibrant commitment to hyper-sexual, super-seductive thrills – the opposite of Careful What You Wish For‘s dead-on-arrival personality.
A lot of this boredom has to do with characters, none of whom manipulate a perverse crime for more appropriate sleaziness. Jonas has trouble balancing his character’s cool, calm and collected nature with chaos once shit hits the proverbial fan, and his coy “Is this really happening?!” face looks more like he’s caught a whiff of something foul – not juvenile, hormonal excitement. Isabel Lucas does her best to feign lusty desires, but “romantic” scenes are undercut by cheesy bumpin-uglies tracks that are more distracting than mood-setting. Dermot Mulroney delivers one or two lines worth a laugh, and Paul Sorvino plays a folk-guitar-strumming, small town Sheriff, yet a broken chemistry between Jonas and Lucas is all we remember – and rarely care about.
Well, that and Nick Jonas’ butt. Did I mention that already? This movie won’t let you forget it.
Careful What You Wish For promises Skinemax tension, but only musters a half-enthusiastic experience. Even with a murder case involved, Chris Frisina’s screenplay is horribly uninspired in its ability to turn sexual wickedness into the equivalent of an awkward high school handjob. Like, yeah – it’ll get the job done in a pinch, but when compared to other options of gratification, there’s no competition. This is an erotic adventure best suited for screaming hordes of Jonas fangirls, liable to faint at the very sight of Nick’s cheese-grater abs. The rest of us? We’ll just go back to ogling J-Lo’s cookies…
Careful What You Wish For is a cut-rate erotic thriller that's light on eroticism, and even lighter on thrills.