The most obvious thing that “Good Boys” is missing is calmness. Also, bleakness and self-seriousness. In other words, it’s tremendous fun, and none of the things that have plagued raunchy comedies this summer season. Just when you thought another political message was going to come along, three kids storm into Cineplexes teaching the power of youth, friendship and the F-word.
You know what kind of movie this going to be from the opening scene. An adorable 12 year old, Max (Jacob Tremblay), whispers “fuck yeah!” as he prepares to masturbate to the avatar on his computer. What comes next is unexpected. Sprawled out on the bed and ready to go, Dad (Will Forte) walks in to give him the ol‘ birds and the bees lesson. The lesson Max learns, however, is that girls are confusing.
Directed by first-timer Gene Stupnitsky (“The Office”), and produced by comedic veterans Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, “Good Boys” eloquently reflects the recesses of the tweenage mind–when learning to kiss could be a spin-off to “Mission Impossible,” sipping beer was for the cool kids and the world of the adult seemed understandable but really wasn’t. That distant, but surely recognizable time is what Stupnitsky is equally spoofing and admiring. Whether you fall for its charms depends on how much you see of yourself in these three precocious and prepubescent sixth graders.
Bean Bag Boys Max (Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Kieth L. Williams) are actually trying to be good boys. That’s what makes them so endearing. As hard as these three lifelong besties try to be “good”; their innocence slowly becomes as obsolete as the toys gathering dust in their rooms. When Max is invited to a “kissing party,” he trembles in fear. “Do any of you know how to kiss?” he asks Thor and Lucas. “Nope” and “Nuh-uh” are the honest replies. Lucas, being the chubby mama’s boy, isn’t too sure he wants to go. While Thor is no superhero–despite claiming to have a hammer– he IS confident that he will be able to win over the popular kids with his beer chugging skills.
If this premise of dorky kids going to a party sounds familiar, that’s because it is. (This can play like re-runs from “Booksmart” and “Superbad”). What it has going for it in the originality department, though, is the hilarity that stems from watching kids try to figure out adult things. That means kissing. That also means spying on the “nymphomaniac” across the street with a drone (talk about learning from the best). Bad idea. It turns out that their neighbor Hannah (Molly Gordon) is just a regular college student with a boyfriend. She takes the drone. They take her molly. Bike chases and frat brawls ensue.
Stupnitsky is a gifted director with a gift for developing characters. It’s what made “The Office” endlessly watchable, and it’s what makes “Good Boys” endlessly re-watchable. First and foremost this is about the the way real friends walk in when the rest of the world walks out. Lucas’ parents are getting divorced. Thor is bullied for his singing. Max is grounded. They all have their problems; but those problems seem to drift away when they hangout together. Like “Booksmart,” albeit less mature, “Good Boys” finds joke-a-second humor in that nostalgia while also reminding us just how hard this time period really was. It’s a combination that is sure to make this a success at the box-office. It’s also a combination that will teach the younger teens who sneak in plenty about the mixed feelings they go through on a day-to-day basis. Parents will have mixed feelings about the way its shown through the eyes of the kids (cleverly shot at eye level). Still, I say this movie is for everyone. Everyone can learn something from the Bean Bag Boys: bean bags, like best friends, can bend in all directions; yet they never break.