Starring Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Will Forte
You gotta ask yourself, who exactly is a rated-R movie about tweens actually for? Producer Seth Rogan obviously understands that kids under 17 will eventually see “Good Boys” despite the rating. Still, those kids can’t buy tickets to this movie that features crude sexual humor, and most adults won’t choose this movie over others playing at the cinema. The two groups Good Boys can hope to capture will be liberal-minded teachers and whoever else they drag with them to the cinema. “Good Boys” lands laughs not because of crude humor, but the creativity in managing the naiveté behind everything these characters say and do. The film’s running time is short and the scenes are swift because film’s like “Good Boys” rarely offer up a real message or any values in the plot.
The Beanbag Boys they call themselves: Max (Tremblay), Lucas (Williams) and Thor (Noon) are a trio of modern-day sixth-graders caught between puberty and childhood. When one of the cooler kids at school invites them to a kissing party, the boys realize they know nothing about kissing and take drastic measures to learn how it’s done. When the internet lets them down, Max borrows his father’s forbidden drone to spy on a couple of college girls for research. The girls confiscate the drone to teach the boys a lesson, so Thor takes something of theirs. Classes are skipped, fights are had, and the Beanbag Boys find themselves in multiple situations that could ground them for life. What started as a simple task of learning how to kiss will end up changing the boy’s friendships forever.
Good Boys lands laughs not because of crude humor, but the creativity in managing the naiveté behind everything these characters say and do.
Watching three immature 12-year-olds talking a big game, misinterpreting what sex toys are for, challenging themselves to “sips” of alcohol, and freaking out over porn is amusing when you don’t have kids of your own. I suspect parents who find themselves at the mercy of this movie will be mortified with its content. Will Forte portrays Max’s father in bookend appearances that begin with talk of masturbation and the pride he feels as a father for this monumental turning point for his son. Tremblay, who most recognize from the film “Room,” has mastered the mortified look. It’s the beginning of many uncomfortable scenarios played for laughs and never for realism or purpose. When and if the audience can accept that “Good Boys” contains little redeeming value and runs solely on crude entertainment, this film becomes tolerable.
You might expect the best performance from Tremblay, yet it’s the comedic timing of Keith L. Williams who steals the show. His clueless one-liners, especially during the scene where the Beanbag Boys attack a frat house, provide the most authentic laughter. The combination of vulgar and sweet is a winning formula for the new age of teen comedy, yet this one doesn’t match “Booksmart’s” intelligence and purpose. The script passively explores a culture where kids are exposed to sex and vulgarity at an alarmingly young age. “Good Boys” plays it up for laughs, but an argument could be made that the vulgar subject matter contained here which, despite the R-rating, will absolutely find its way to a tween audience, is part of the problem.
The writers have turned naivety into something funny, but in a film that’s only appropriate or appealing to a select group of viewers.