Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Lil Rey Howery, Will Forte, Midori Francis
Screenplay: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
89 mins. Rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout – all involving tweens.
Can we just congratulate Good Boys for being the first film to receive an R rating with the phrase “all involving tweens.” What a time to be alive.
Good Boys is the story of three tween friends: Max (Jacob Tremblay, Room, The Predator), Lucas (Keith L. Williams, Sadie, TV’s The Last Man on Earth), and Thor (Brady Noon, TV’s Boardwalk Empire). When Max is invited to a kissing party at a popular kid’s home, he needs to learn how to properly kiss. With the help of Lucas and Thor, Max sets off on a wild adventure that involves a hostage drone, a potential drug run, and a lot of profanity as the group discover that adolescence is a lot tougher than they expected.
You could call Good Boys a gimmick movie. In a lot of ways, that’s exactly how it’s being marketed, and it isn’t an incorrect assumption. The entire move hinges its comedy on the idea that three kids are getting involved in a lot of adult situations and swearing a lot. That’s the movie, but for what it is, it works rather well. I found a lot of comedy in the things that they don’t understand about adults than by the things they do. It’s a hard-R comedy that never really gets mean-spirited but knows what it is trying to accomplish, and it’s probably the most I’ve laughed at a movie in a long time.
Jacob Tremblay shines in just about everything he’s in. He’s even solid when the movie isn’t, but thankfully, Good Boys and the screenplay from Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg give him a lot to work with. I’ve not seem much from Williams or Noon, but they each stand on their own in the film fine enough. What’s great about the writing and performances is how I could genuinely believe that these three kids are friends and yet each of them is their own person with drastically different views on their growing-up. It’s the believability of their acting combined with the basic human fact that I was just as foul-mouthed as a kid that bridges that realness to how a lot of kids actually are. It feels like Stand by Me, It, and Dreamcatcher (all from Stephen King) viewpoints of youth.
Good Boys is very funny, and it’s only real flaw comes when the narrative hits a brick wall about 2/3 of the way through. It recovers quite nicely but there is a noticeable wearing on the shtick as the film gets closer to the end. There’s no chance this thing is winning awards but it knows what it’s trying to be and is quite successful in that endeavor. It’s problem with pacing near the end isn’t a major one and the comedy laced throughout works so well that it didn’t ruin the experience for me. This is, without doubt, the funniest movie of the year so far.
-Kyle A. Goethe