I loved the trailers for “Good Boys”. The young leads looked interesting and the film looked funny. Advertised as being from the writers of Superbad and Pineapple Express, it appeared to be the Superbad take on sixth grade. After seeing the film, I can confirm that Good Boys manages to combine terribly inappropriate comedy with the pains of growing up. The young leads are engaging and funny, the subject matter is just the right level of wrong, and the audience laughed throughout the entire movie.
Written by the team of Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (NBC’s The Office, Bad Teacher) with Stupnitsky directing and produced by Eisenberg, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express and Sausage Party), and James Weaver (Neighbors), Good Boys is all about how bad one day can get for a trio of tweens. 12-year-old Max (Jacob Tremblay) has just been invited to his first kissing party. Asked by the cool kids, he agrees but only if his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) can come too. But Max has a crush on one of the girls at the party, Brixlee (Millie Davis), and panics when he realizes he has no idea how to kiss. In an effort to learn, he uses the drone his father has forbidden him to even touch to spy on the teenage couple next door. When the girl, Hannah (Molly Gordon) and her friend, Lily (Midori Francis), take the drone, it gets destroyed when Max attempts to retrieve it. Desperate to replace it before Max’s dad (Will Forte) gets home, the boys skip school and set off on an odyssey of epically bad decisions involving some accidentally stolen drugs, frat-house paintball, and running from both the cops and terrifying teenage girls. In the process, the boys learn that sometimes growing up means changes and that change isn’t all bad.
While the film very much follows the Superbad framework and there isn’t anything new, the writing, the acting, and the characters are funny, well-executed and engaging. From one antic to the next, the boys are charming and while the humor is ribald, laced with sex jokes and f-bombs, it makes you laugh, especially when it is over the top. One of the reasons is the pacing. The story is quickly set up, both Max’s father leaving and the drone being off-limits. The film doesn’t let up, jumping the boys from one humorous scenario to the next. The boys are exploring what it means to grow up, to figure out who they are, and how their friendship will evolve as they grow. Even though the comedy is what moves the film, it is the moments of friendship that builds the story and the film is balanced well between the comedy and the heartwarming scenes. The humor is outrageous and the friendship will make you fall in love with the boys.
The other factor that makes the film so good is the actors. All three young men have impeccable comedic timing and are genuinely charismatic. Each one is different but it is the dynamic between the three that makes the film so good. Jacob Tremblay is funny and charming as Max, trying to figure out girls and kissing. Brady Noon as Thor is hilarious as he figures out who he is and what he wants, figuring out that fitting in isn’t always what is best. Keith L. Williams is fantastic as Lucas, a rule follower and conscience of the group. He plays Lucas as the geek but his character is the one who’s the heart of the three. The trio really plays well off each other and it is their interactions that heighten the comedy and makes the movie so good.
Happily, it isn’t just the lead actors that excel but the entire cast. Will Forte is brilliantly modern and great at embarrassing Max. Lucas’ parents, played by Retta and Lil Rel Howery deliver some awesome lines, even as they try to help their son through tough times. Both teenage girls, Molly Gordon playing Hannah and Midori Francis as Lily are tough and outrageously funny as they chase the boys through the movie. All the supporting actors do a fantastic job and it is the acting that makes this film shine comedically.
The limit of this movie is that it is not new. Most of the situations that the boys face are predictable, set up at the beginning of the film and you know what to expect, Superbad meets The Goonies. So while it is easy to follow, it is absolutely a laugh riot. The other thing worth mentioning is that this film is rated R for a reason. While it stars middle graders, those same middle graders aren’t going to be able to go to the film without an adult, something most parents should be aware of and plan on. There are jokes that some parents may not want their children to hear. Adults, on the other hand, will empathize with being a tween and will laugh at the antics.
Overall, the humor and the friendship between the boys make this one of the best comedies. The blend of Superbad into the tween world is fantastic, as the stars of the film explore sex, kissing, and growing up. If you don’t mind outrageous humor, risque subject matter and boys using the f-bomb, the over the top scenes will make you laugh at every scene. I really liked it, even though it was so wrong in all the right ways.