Review: GOOD BOYS, Crude Laugh Riot Has a Big Heart
The coolest kid in school, Soren, invites Max to a kissing party and the girl that he pines for, Brixlee, will be there. Trouble is, Max and neither of his friends, Lucas and Thor, know how to kiss girls. When a trip down the internet rabbit hole proves to have one hole too many they use Max's Dad's drone to spy on his next door neighbour, Hannah, and her boyfriend, Benji. When Hannah and her friend Lily capture the drone it sets of a chain of events where the boys ditch school to buy a new drone before Max’s dad returns home, he will surely get in trouble, and not be able to go to the party and kiss Brixlee.
We are introduced to the Beanbag Boys: Max, Lucas and Thor. Friends For Life, they’re about to start the new school year and there is a lot riding on this year. Lucas (Keith L. Williams) is the gentle giant of the trio. He stands a clear head over his friends but you know he will not harm a fly. He is aware of his limits and boundaries and acts within them, very much the trio’s conscious. However, Lucas is about to find out that Taco Tuesday will also happen on Wednesday too. Thor (Brady Noon) might be a bit emotionally fragile and explosive, acting tougher than he really is. He is thinking about giving up his dream to lead the school musical because peer pressure from the cool Scooter Kids during an incident at the skatepark carries over back to school. Max (Jacob Tremblay) sits somewhere in between the two on that emotional scale. He’s starting to get curious about girls but is too nervous to go and talk to Brixlee. His quest has been laid out before him. Get to the party and kiss the girl.
Soren’s party could potentially change everything for these sixth-grade boys.
Long time producer Gene Stupnitsky (Bad Teacher, The Office) gets behind the camera for Good Boys making it his feature film debut. He also wrote it with long time collaborator Lee Eisenberg (Bad Teacher, The Office), who directed the film as well but is not credited with the ‘D’. What they have created is this year’s funniest movie, packed on top with a whole lot of heart.
Good Boys is consistently and uproariously funny with back to back to back jokes. It stands a good chance to be the funniest movie of the year. We are sure some punchlines got lost in the laughter from the joke before it, so repeat viewings may be in order. Most of the humor surrounding the lads is born from their naivety and innocence. For example, Thor’s parent’s sexual lifestyle plays a consistent role in the humor throughout the film. We have all seen the joke with the sex swing in the trailer; that is just the tip of the iceberg. The crude humor that the production’s pedigree (Superbad, Neighbors and Sausage Party) is known for is largely kept on the down low and is more subtle than its predecessors. It’s there, it’s just going to sneak up on you.
This all works so well because the boys act as boys do in real life. They’re curious, boisterous, and sometimes scared. We look at Max, Lucas and Thor and we see our younger selves. We know all their dreams and fears because we have felt them before. We know what they’re feeling in each situation. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Well, maybe not THAT. But by keeping these characters grounded we are relating to these lads and their quest.
Due to its R rating tween boys should not be able to get into the cinema to see Good Boys and that is a shame. Why? Well. Good Boys says it is okay for boys to react emotionally to the hurdles and bumps that life throws their way. Good Boys needs to be exalted for showing boys who are emotional, who cry, and who hug it out at the end. We all know that young boys are going to see it eventually, nothing is beyond their grasp in this digital age. The Beanbag Boys are who they should be allowed to see, boys like them who are free to express emotions without fear of ridicule.
For now, Good Boys should speak to its other audience, men and the battle against toxic masculinity. No adult ever tells Max, Lucas or Thor to ‘Man Up’ or to ‘Grow A Pair’. The most emotional a parent gets is when Max’s dad (Will Forte) is really angry about the whole drone incident but he orates a much broader version of the “I’m not so much angry as I am disappointed” gut punch. As the Beanbag Boys’ story nears its conclusion and the three friends have grown to understand what trajectories their lives will take they gather together once again to hug it out. They can do that, knowing no one is going to make fun of them for showing a bit of affection.
There is also a word that comes up often enough in Good Boys, a word that we usually associate with the common procedural crime programs when someone is asked after the fact, did you have ‘Consent’? It rings through often enough that we know that the boys are learning about it at their school, to ask before anything happens, and be on the right side of any potential physical interactions with girls. Flipping it over, it is better to ask for permission than it is to beg for forgiveness.
Stupnitsky and Eisenberg must be commended for this positive turn of the word and messages for young boys in their film. Bravo, gentlemen. Bravo.
- Gene Stupnitsky
- Lee Eisenberg
- Gene Stupnitsky
- Jacob Tremblay
- Molly Gordon
- Will Forte
- Lina Renna