Good Boys (2019)
Good Boys (2019)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: August 16th, 2019 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Gene Stupnitsky Actors: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Will Forte

 


 

“D

o not touch the drone!” It’s a simple commandment made by Andrew Newman (Will Forte) to his sixth-grader son, Max (Jacob Tremblay). But it’s bound to be broken during Mr. Newman’s two-day business trip. When he’s not warning the youth about his hi-tech work-gadget, he’s playfully chiding him about masturbation, likening the act to a new toy that Max just can’t get enough of. This opening sequence, which sets the child in an environment of embarrassment by his elders, is strangely never duplicated; from here, the majority of the humor is derived from peers, whether they’re mocking or being mocked (oftentimes not fully understanding what they’re doing or saying), or engaging in all manner of mischief.

Max is one-third of the “Bean Bag Boys,” along with best friends Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon), all in sixth grade, struggling to prove themselves before embarking on the next big phase of their lives: middle school. Along the way, of course, they must contend with a bully (Chance Hurstfield), trying to fit in with the popular kid (Izaac Wang), avoiding two college girls (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis) who desperately want their molly (ecstasy), and preparing for a kissing party that promises to put Max in front of his longtime crush Brixlee (Millie Davis). “Act cool! Act cool!”

Right from the start, the children curse. As in “Sausage Party” and “Superbad” (both of which share many of the same creators), the sudden, jarring, nonstop expletives are immediately funny, largely due to the unexpected nature of such young kids unearthing such vulgar utterances. But it’s a gimmick that tires quickly, especially since the harsh language never subsides so that the rarer words might produce greater reactions. When nearly every other line includes an indelicacy, they become increasingly less impactful. Nevertheless, a wealth of laughs come from surprisingly mature – or, perhaps, not so surprisingly mature – conversations between the preteens, mainly involving sex, booze, and drugs. Their innocence contributes to 90% of the humor; were it not for their ages, the dialogue might be matter-of-fact rather than jaw-dropping.

Mixing the naïveté with depravity, of which most goes over their heads (from oral sex to anal beads), is a frequent source of mild amusement, particularly as Lucas assumes the role of the angel on Max’s shoulder, while Thor goads him as if a deceptively cherubic devil. When the lead trio misinterpret, misspeak, or merely repeat phrases they’ve heard from others, the audience gets a chance to giggle at their ignorance; it’s regularly uproarious to hear the ways in which they awkwardly or backwardly recite colloquialisms. Curiously, the non-explicit mixup of “social piranha” for “social pariah” gets not a single snicker. By this point, however, a desensitization to the cursing has already set in, which might make the tamer joke unimpressive.

It’s all terribly immature, yet it concerns mature themes and activities. It’s a scarily adult (and occasionally illegal) odyssey into the minds of prepubescent children as they embrace aging rather than clinging to their childish fancies. But thanks to the consistent raunchiness, the coming-of-age components (such as dealing with divorce, hormones, peer pressure, or growing apart from friends) are intermittently unrecognizable. Ultimately, the considerably one-note scheme goes on for too long, until the climactic kissing party is thoroughly anticlimactic. It doesn’t help that the plot is virtually identical to “Superbad,” but with tweens substituting for the teenagers, or that there’s an unmistakable level of fantasy to many of their misadventures. It is nonetheless interesting to note that the target audience will likely find plenty of entertainment value in seeing little kids behaving as if much older; and that tweens will likely never see this hard-R-rated picture, thereby eliminating viewers who could shed some light on how authentically they’re portrayed.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10