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'Good Boys' (2019) Review

Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.

The official one-sheet theatrical poster for, "Good Boys."

The official one-sheet theatrical poster for, "Good Boys."

Bean Bag Boys for 90 Redundant Minutes!

“Bean Bag Boys for life!” In Good Boys, that’s the motto for three 12-year-old best friends who are finding the sixth grade way more profound and coercing than the fifth grade or any grade before it ever was. Max (Jacob Tremblay) is at the age where girls aren’t so gross and are actually quite arousing, Thor (Brady Noon) is giving up on who he is and what he loves in a bold attempt to try to fit in with kids who he thinks are cool, and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) mostly just loves Magic: The Gathering, treating women with respect, and being honest.

Two weeks into sixth grade and the boys find themselves invited to their first party, but the catch is that it’s a kissing party and none of them know how to kiss. They use Max’s dad’s drone to spy on high school girls Hannah (Molly Gordon) and Lily (Midori Francis), but the girls end up capturing the drone and holding it for ransom. After a face-to-face meeting goes south, Thor steals Hannah’s purse which includes two capsules of Molly/ecstasy in a kid’s chewy vitamins bottle. Now in possession of illegal drugs after skipping school and using Max’s dad’s drone without permission while he’s out of town, the boys need to figure out a way to get the drone back home without his dad knowing so Max won’t get grounded all so they can still attend the kissing party and become legends of the sixth grade.

Keith L. Williams, Jacob Tremblay, and Brady Noon as Lucas, Max, and Thor.

Keith L. Williams, Jacob Tremblay, and Brady Noon as Lucas, Max, and Thor.

Good Boys is co-written and co-directed (only Stupnitsky received credit) by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (writers of Year One and Bad Teacher). The film is produced by Seth Green’s Point Grey Pictures and Good Universe (both Neighbors films, The Disaster Artist, Long Shot). This is all worth mentioning to get an idea of what you’re diving into if you plan on seeing this film. The R-rated comedy attempts to capture what Superbad did for teenagers over a decade ago, but replaces the teenagers with tweens. Whether they’re successful or not is entirely up to you.

There are some decent laugh-out-loud moments in Good Boys, but their effect is short-lived because Stupnitsky and Eisenberg decided to repeat those laugh-out- loud moments over and over again to the point of annoyance. The main laughs of the film come from the boys trying to talk about adult things they don’t fully understand (cum pronounced as koom, a sex doll being a CPR dummy, a nymphomaniac is someone who likes to have sex at sea and on land, etc), thinking sex toys are weapons, and still not being able to get past the childproof lid on a vitamin bottle. These are all funny at first, but all the gags in the film fall under the same handful of categories and essentially feel like Stupnitsky and Eisenberg didn’t have enough creativity in the scriptwriting process to think outside a smattering of raunch.

Don't watch this. It spoils the entire movie.

The typo’d “porb” sequence where the boys attempt to look up how to kiss on the internet, the crossing the busy highway on the way to the mall sequence, and Lucas being so adamant about a woman’s consent are more humorous elements because they’re not as overplayed. Even the opening in which Max is on the verge of masturbation seems like a cheap knock off of what Not Another Teen Movie did in its opening sequence nearly 20 years ago. By comparison, Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart from earlier this year was labeled as a female version of Superbad. The Superbad influence is there, but Booksmart adds a refreshing female perspective and explores what the future means for the main characters to a more satisfying extent.

Growing up and what that means to a 12-year-old is explored in Good Boys, but it seems awkward. You’re on the verge of becoming a teenager, which shouldn’t mean all that much for you other than attending a new school. Lucas’ parents are in the middle of a divorce and Thor is trying to be something he isn’t just for his reputation. The characters learn something over the course of the film because of this, but the entire maturation angle doesn’t feel right. Part of it is meant to be ridiculous, especially after Lucas says something like, “I’ve grown up a lot in the past two hours,” and it’s cool that the film goes out of its way to tell the audience to never be ashamed of what you love, but it all feels sloppy and thrown together at the last minute.

The boys find out that porn isn't for sixth graders in, "Good Boys."

The boys find out that porn isn't for sixth graders in, "Good Boys."

This is the first R-rated film to ever have a rating that includes, “all involving tweens,” and this could be seen as the Superbad of this generation, but Good Boys simply doesn’t differentiate itself from the high school and college R-rated comedies that came before it to be memorable or enjoyable. It will likely be a crowd-pleaser anyway since the theater I was in was full of laughs from the general public, but its charm is ruined so early on and that’s a painful thing to say when your film is only 90 minutes long. Good Boys may be outrageous and funny at times, but its generic formula destroys what little entertainment value it potentially had.

© 2019 Chris Sawin


Michael115 on August 14, 2019:

Gotta check it out to see if it's worth watching. If it's funny then it will get a pass in my book.