With the summer winding down, Hollywood is taking a few final shots at collecting blockbuster money, even though August is best known as a dumping ground for smaller, non-tentpole features.
One such movie is Good Boys, the zany tween comedy produced by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Co-written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, Good Boys places the vulgarity of Superbad squarely upon the prepubescent shoulders of three sixth-graders. Stupnitsky also serves as producer for an 89-minute comedy that again follows the template of raw comedy with heart.
Jacob Tremblay (the Oscar-nominated Room), Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire) and Keith L. Williams (The Last Man on Earth) co-star as Max, Thor and Lucas, respectively. They are not very popular, but the cool kids invite Max to a “kissing party” because he did something awesome at the skate park. Not wanting to leave Thor and Lucas out in the cold, Max manages to get them invited, too, despite Thor recently achieving the degrading nickname “Sippy Cup” and Lucas being the straightest arrow in the history of sixth graders.
An even bigger problem looms – Max has never kissed a girl and he’s stressed because he has a crush on Brixlee (Millie Davis), a girl he hopes to kiss at the party. What follows is one of the zaniest adventures in recent film history, all of which involve drugs (and drug deals), alcohol (BEER), sex (sex talk and sex toys), cursing (lots of it), and other adult activities kids strive to do in order to look cool and more mature. Believe me, Good Boys is lighthearted throughout and things don’t get too explicit. But this is not a family film; despite the fact its main protagonists are kids.
With a running time of 89 minutes, Good Boys provides endless humor. Almost every minute contains a slick one-liner, joke, or sight gag, yet somehow Stupnitsky allows the pace to move briskly. At the same time, it doesn’t move too fast, so viewers can catch a breath before the laughter returns. In fact, Good Boyshas a couple of slow moments; the momentum sometimes has to start up again and again (instead of a constant line of humor). That can be both good and bad but in the end it’s understandable since Eisenberg and Stupnitsky want to stress the importance of the self-proclaimed Bean Bag Boys’ friendship.
The other great thing about having plenty of jokes to go around – its trailers whet the appetite. You’re guaranteed to get more than what’s teased in the trailers. That’s perfect since it means Good Boys is funny enough to warrant repeat viewings.
Of course, with Goldberg and Rogen involved this comedy has some heart. It doesn’t dial up the drama, but it wants to provide some message. With life lessons focusing on loyalty, honesty and being true to oneself, its morality doesn’t stray too far from a family-friendly Disney film. Good Boys will do better to grab your attention because it’s aimed primarily at adults who don’t want to think too hard about what they’re observing.
With co-stars Molly Gordon and Midori Francis on board they play teenage girls who are somewhat antagonists. More aptly, they’re there to teach the boys a lesson in how to treat women. But they are provided opportunity to show off their funny side.
Going back to adults, Good Boys boasts a couple of memorable names. Will Forte appears as Max’s dad, almost copying the “out of town pop” trope I remember best in The Sandlot (you’ll see what I’m talking about). And Lil Rel Howery, probably best known for the comic relief he provided in Get Out, appears as Lucas’ dad. Their appearances are essentially cameos (and aren’t necessary) but they add some credibility for viewers looking for a recognizable name to convince them to watch.
Ultimately, the reasons to watch Good Boys are Tremblay, Noon and Williams. They are great together, play off of each other swimmingly, and their comedic timing is solid. Not to mention, they pull off the naïve angle perfectly. One can argue that it should be easy for them because they are children, but the ease in which they pull it off has them looking like seasoned comedic actors.
Outside of Booksmart, Good Boys is the funniest summer film and a perfect way to end the lackluster summer movie season. In that sense, losing one's innocence has never looked this hilarious.
4 stars out of 5