Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, Keith L. Williams
Luckily Good Boys is raunchy without being creepy, think Superbad about a younger group, if not for a younger audience. I was worried that the sexual humor surrounding minors would just feel icky, like they were going to be trying to have sex with everyone and I was going to feel uncomfortable. But that’s not the way the story went, and I’m glad. The most inappropriate thing the film could be accused of pushing tweens to do is run across an interstate; I honestly thought that scene was unnecessary and irresponsible, which is, I’m sure, how many people view the movie in general. Not me though; I found it humorous and heart-heavy, with enough restraint to appease the moms & dads in the audience who didn’t want to be pushed too far. Don’t get me wrong; Good Boys is still very bad, very dirty, isn’t out to toe the line, but it also never goes too far, and lands well at the end to general applause.
Max, Thor, and Lucas make up the Beanbag Boys, a trio of friends who have been together since kindergarten and have just started 6th grade. They want to be cool more than anything, to be liked and fit in and seen as teenagers, but life’s not easy for a prepubescent who still needs permission to stay up past 8:30. Max really wants to go to a kissing party where he’ll finally have a chance to show Brixlee how much he likes her, but he’s nervous because he’s never kissed a girl before. So he and his buds use his dad’s drone, which he’s not allowed to touch, to spy on a neighbor, who just broke up with her boyfriend, with the hope of seeing her kiss someone. But when she takes their drone and the boys accidentally take her drugs, they come to an immature impasse that can’t be steered easily. Get the drone, return the drugs, kiss the girl, don’t abandon your friends; 6th grade is going to be lit.
This isn’t something you watch with your parents, but the sexual aspects of Good Boys could have been so much more uncomfortable. Mostly the kids were generally/hilariously confused and misinformed, maneuvering their budding curiosities with an attitude that was still completely innocent and unaware. But we get to see it, we understand it, we know what they’re holding that they think is a beaded necklace that smells bad, so don’t think we’re off the hook, we’re still made to feel grossed out and that what we’re watching is 100% wrong, but that’s all part of the fun. We’re adults, we can take it, and I don’t think the kids were overly sexualized, that’s what I’m saying; the story let them be innocent and sweet (for the most part) and allowed us to find it hilarious that they were so in over their heads.
Jacob Tremblay played that part perfectly, the cool, good-looking kid who is still just nice, hasn’t discovered how to be a total jerk just yet, and is simply trying to figure out how to talk to girls. Brady Noon was a great sidekick, willing to push the envelope but still looking out for his buddies, helping them out when times got tough. Keith L. Williams was, unfortunately, terrible, though his character was solid; he’s just not a natural actor. I watched him in Last Man on Earth and he didn’t talk, which is probably the way he should be highlighted. I liked how the boys were always trying to treat girls nicely, even though they thought feminism was a negative word; good intentions balanced with stupid mistakes, that’s my overall takeaway from Max, Thor, and Lucas, which made me like them all the more. And there’s heart at the end, that was pretty surprising, how much of a life lesson we could get out of a comedy that was this heavy-handed in the dildo department, and how much we would feel at the end as the boys began to understand that their paths might be splitting. Gene Stupnitsky’s directorial debut is a success, as audiences are thrown right in to this fictional world and simply urged to follow along with three kids on their adventure, laughing and cringing in turn, but ultimately leaving with a smile.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆