Teenage boys look for love in an R-rated world, finding just enough laughs along the way to make it all worth it...sort of.
"Good Boys" steals from a lot of other, better movies about mischievous young boys gone bad, spinning the premise into raunchy, shock-value territory. At times you can sense the spirit of films like "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," "Stand By Me," and even "Ferris Buellar's Day Off" in the DNA of "Good Boys," even if it will ultimately be compared to more recent R-rated "bro-coms" like "Superbad."
The premise is elementary enough: Three young friends embark on an adventure with the goal of "getting some," which in the case of sixth-graders, is to score some action at a kissing party. Their journey involves stolen drugs, older kids chasing them around town and all kinds of juvenile "fun."
The comedic goal of "Good Boys" is quite simple as well: Wouldn't it be funny to have young kids swear and misunderstand everything adult, from what a tampon is used for ("girls shove it in their butts to stop babies from falling out") to anal beads (a running joke involves some - used - anal beads being worn as a necklace) to drugs (the kids have stolen some "molly" from two older teenagers, but can't access them because of the darned child-lock on the pill bottle).
Mixing up the innocence of youth with the provocativeness of adulthood does provide a ripe landscape for comedy, but it quickly becomes one-note. But the three child actors at its center: Jacob Tremblay ("Room," and who also was named the "Best Young Actor" at the Critics Choice Awards in 2016), Brady Noon (who played young Tommy Darmody on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire") and Keith L. Williams ("Teachers" and "The Last Man on Earth") are all quite good. We all know that Tremblay is among the best young actors in Hollywood, but I wouldn't be surprised if both Noon and Williams stick around for a long, long time as well. Molly Gordon - having a break-out year with her role on Hulu's "Ramy" and as Triple A in "Booksmart" - and Midori Francis play the two older teens who become entangled with the young boys.
But everything that happens is quite preposterous, so unbelievable that it messes with your ability to enjoy the film. This movie takes place in a child's world, but it's actually the sporadic adult cameos that breathe life into the film (Will Forte, Stephen Merchant, Lil Rel Howery and "Detroiters" Sam Richardson all show up, and Matt Ellis steals his scenes as an over-caring theater instructor). Sadly, these cameos are too few and far between.
"Good Boys" ends up traveling down roads all too familiar, and the beginning premise alone - of horny sixth graders on the prowl - just isn't enough to carry the entirety of the film. But the story morphs into one about friendship along the way, with the young actors all able to bring it home across the finish line, if just barely. Comedies should always be judged by how funny they are, and this one just barely meets the height requirement.
Yes it's stupid, and no it is not for kids (that's a hard no). And while it may be a middling comedy, I'm rooting for its success, if only to hopefully see an eventual spin-off ("Good Dads?") featuring Forte, Merchant, Howery, Richardson and Ellis. I hope Hollywood is reading this?
Genre: Comedy, Adventure.
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis.
Co-Written and Directed by Gene Stupnitsky (feature-film debut).
"Good Boys" opens everywhere on Friday, August 16th, 2019.
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