Review for Good Boys (2019) Directed by Gene Stupnitsky. Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon. IMDB says “Three sixth grade boys ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls, and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party.”
“I know what cocaine is…”
Good Boys is the latest effort from writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (Year One, Bad Teacher, The Office) and the feature-length directorial debut of Stupnitsky. It tells the story of Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon), on their quest to learn how to kiss so they don’t look like fools at the cool kid’s party. Watching the trailer for this move didn’t excite me. If anything, it made me question why they were making a tweenage Superbad. It follows similar beats, and even some of the characters follow the same arcs. But Good Boys does something different. Sure, there is plenty of gross out humor, and mostly humor at the expense of the boys due to their obliviousness, but the film begins to establish heart through the intertwining subplots. It made the film worthwhile, even at its most predictable.
When we watch a coming-of-age tale within a college setting, everything makes sense. We can add depth to characters based on what they’ve gone through in the past. We can leapfrog off of their collective life experience, and explore their innerworkings through a real situation with real consequences. When we watch a high school coming-of-age tale, it’s more exploratory. Characters are still finding themselves or working through relationships/situations that we as the viewer know are not world ending. That, yes, they are important moments for character development, but in the grand scheme of things it’s mostly looked back upon as a stepping stone. With this film, a middle school (borderline elementary school) coming-of-age, everything becomes heightened. We see characters oblivious, rooted in their ways, and anything bad is the end of the world. I mean, if he can’t kiss the girl, how can he marry her?? But Good Boys exceeds at exploring the life of a child as they transition to that next stage in life. Trying to maintain the confidence and courage inside to pursue your passions, figuring out relationships (both social and romantic), and leaving the innocence of youth for a new world of discovery.
Good Boys takes those ideas and wraps it in swears, sex jokes, and slapstick. It’s good enough for chuckles and a few hard laughs, but the jokes come at the expense of seeming dated and overdone. The cast does a great job with the delivery, but we saw the punchline minutes before. I do want to give the film kudos as it really relies on the main trio to carry the film. The Bean Bag Boys have a fantastic chemistry that let all the heavy lifting seem natural and believable. There are some side characters we may recognize (Retta, Lil Rey Howery, Will Forte) but the film could have quickly become overrun with cameos and relied on a series of bits rather than a complete story. I had some problems with the lackluster CGI use and the ADR edits can be distracting. You can check this out in theatres, but you’re better off streaming it on a weeknight.
FTS SCORE: 65%
Good Boys is now playing in a theater near you.