'Good Boys' Will Make You Yearn for Your Middle School Days Directed by Gene Stupnitsky
Starring Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon and Will Forte
Published Aug 16, 2019Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) are three sixth-grade boys trying desperately to make their way to the popular kids' spin-the-bottle makeout party. If they want to arrive on time and unscathed so that Max can finally kiss Brixlee (Millie Davis), the love of his short 12-year-old life, they'll need to outrun and outsmart a couple teenage girls (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis), Max's dad (Will Forte) and the cops. You know, classic kid stuff.
At the heart of Good Boys is the trio's unwavering innocence. They're positioned as young souls in a hurry to grow up too fast, while they're all on painfully divergent trajectories. They quickly learn the consequences of aging may be more than they're equipped to handle. Adolescence can come at the cost of even your closest friendships.
It's another coming-of-age tale set in the style of its well known predecessors, Superbad, and the more recent female-led Booksmart. The film even pays deserved respect to certain tropes laid out in Stranger Things. And while Good Boys follows the same philosophies of Superbad, it falls more in line with the woke-wave comedy of Booksmart — the boys are well-aware of the importance of things like consent and treating their female schoolmates with their due respect (you always have to ask before you kiss a girl, and you're not allowed to call them skanks). Unlike Superbad, the female characters in Good Boys are autonomous beings with their own desires, which pays off in the movie's funniest falling action twist.
But all of that never gets in the way of plenty of classic R-rated gags; porn, dildos, theft, drugs, beer and filthy language rule over the film — there's a reason why the young actors in Good Boys aren't allowed to actually watch it. But to its detriment, the breakneck frequency and high gross-out value of the gags often come off as a little over-the-top.
Regardless, Max, Thor and Lucas are rather untouched by the hedonism that saturates Hollywood's comedy culture, and the film is more in touch with reality than other Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg productions, in terms of what the youth are actually getting up to.
Even though Good Boys relies too heavily on dildo gags, seeing non-toxic male friendships represented on screen remains a hopeful and heartwarming experience, and will have you yearning for your less complicated (and "random") middle-school days.