Film & TV

‘Good Boys’ is Crass but Kind-Hearted

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Being a tween isn’t easy. Between trying to build a status with the cool kids at school, exploring the possibility of romantic relationships and learning every bad word in the book, the life of a sixth grader is harder than it may seem. 

In director Gene Stupnitsky’s coming-of-age comedy “Good Boys,” three 12-year-old boys drop F-bombs, take sips of beer and practice kissing as they tackle everything their new, sixth-grade lives throw their way. Filled with raunchy humor most kids that age likely wouldn’t understand, the film captures the naive, awkward tween years in a sincere and kind-hearted way. 

Released Aug. 14, “Good Boys” is the story of Max (Jacob Tremblay) and his two best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Wiliams) — who collectively call themselves “The Beanbag Boys.” They grew up together, playing “Ascension,” riding bikes and keeping to themselves. Now, each faces personal challenges that come with getting older as they enter a critical point in their lives. 

Max’s mind is fixed on getting with — or at least talking to —  his dream girl, Brixlee (Millie Davis). Thor’s love for music and singing is overpowered by his desperation to fit in with the popular kids. And respectful, rule-abiding Lucas struggles to wrap his mind around his parents’ divorce. 

Against all odds, these geeky rule-followers are invited to a party hosted by Soren (Izaac Wang), the coolest kid in school. Most frightening of all, it’s a “kissing party” — involving a not-so-kid-friendly game of spin the bottle — and Max’s crush will be attending.

As they scramble to learn how to kiss, Max uses his dad’s drone to spy on his neighbor Hannah (Molly Gordon), who he explains to his friends is a nymphomaniac — which by his definition is “someone who has sex on land and sea.” When the drone is taken down by a bus, Max convinces his buddies, with some hesitation, to skip school and go to the mall to buy a new one.

The boys set off on a series of misadventures full of adult content and slapstick comedy. They face everything from sex toys, alcohol and drugs to crossing a multilane highway. The Beanbag Boys’ innocence is tarnished as they attempt to step out of their comfort zone into the grown-up world. 

Tremblay, Noon and Williams are excellent in their respective roles and even better when brought together as best friends. Playing their own age adds an element of realism to the story. The sincere reactions to the absurd situations —  including terrified shrieking while running through traffic, confusing sex toys for weapons and gagging at the sight of a dislocated shoulder — make them more realistic and relatable.

While the movie relies mostly on raunchy jokes and shock value, the humor is both witty and relatable, taking viewers back to the awkward days of middle school filled with voice cracks and discourse between cliques. Stupnitsky and writer Lee Eisenberg fill the movie with clever one-liners and small details — like floundering to open the child-proof cap of a vitamin bottle — that will likely leave viewers reminiscing their childhood. 

Behind the vulgar humor is a story about an important part of a child’s life. As they get older, the boys begin to realize the friendships they thought would last forever may start to fade as they each explore new interests and head their separate ways. 

Foul-mouthed humor aside, “Good Boys” is sweet and genuine. Not only does it show the value of friendship and self-discovery, it touches on topics like bullying, drug and alcohol use and the importance of consent.

Successfully balancing absurd humor with wholeheartedness, this movie gives the audience a look back at their once naive, too-cool-for-school selves. However, whether or not real sixth graders should be watching the movie is questionable.

“Good Boys,” rated R, is now playing in theatres nationwide.

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