Published on August 14th, 2019 | by Michael Newman0
Every generation has a coming of age classic that they can point to and say that it resonated with them. Whether it be classic John Hughes movies such as Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club, there is always something that defines the youth of that generation. Whether it be the situations that the main characters find themselves in, or even something as simple as the music and fashion, there is usually something that will strike a familiar chord with the audience. Even when I go back and rewatch the classics, it reminds me of a simpler time, when my life struggles involved asking a girl to a dance or attempting to fit in to any number of awkward first-time moments that each of us at one time or another go through. Good Boys is such a movie, about the awkwardness and naivety of youth, even if the kids had a bigger potty mouth than I did as a child.
Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon), and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) are a group of 12-year old boys known to their family and friends as the Bean Bag boys. Why do they refer to themselves as the Bean Bag Boys you ask? Why because they sit on Bean Bag chairs of course. Entering 6th grade they are trying to stand out but tend to do so in all the worst ways. Thor loves to sing but is bullied to not sign up for the school musical because it’s not a cool thing to be. Lucas is dealing with his parent’s new divorce and has a propensity to always tell the truth (even when the truth potentially causes more damage than a lie). Then there is Max, a young man whose hormones are beginning to take over his brain and can only think of the love of his life (and future wife of course) Brixlee.
Max being to shy to even look at Brixlee when she is looking his way is finally given a golden opportunity when he is invited by popular kid Soren (Izaac Wang) to a kissing party. The idea of being able to not only speak to Brixlee but be able to kiss her causes a rush of emotions that gravitate from excitement to terror. Max, believing that the way to his true-loves heart is by being a kissing expert recruits his fellow Bean Bag Boys on a quest to learn to kiss.
His quest will take him from spying on his “nymphomaniac” neighbor, to a treacherous highway crossing to get to the mall. They will have to brave frat houses, and potentially risky run-ins with pedophiles and the police, all to learn how to be a better kisser. Of course, there is plenty of laughs and situations that only naïve children could get themselves into, all of which had me and the entirety of the audience laughing the entire way through
Good Boys is a movie that relies on the audience connection with the main characters to succeed. Without that, you are left with a movie full of foul language and crude humor which have lately become a dime a dozen. Thankfully the casting of Good Boys far exceeds any expectations I had going into the theater. Comedies of these type lean heavily on the actors to carry the story through the hi-jinx that are around every corner and the actors were more than up to the challenge. Jacob Tremblay portrays perfectly the fear that every young boy (or girl) goes through when they imagine their first kiss. Keith L. Williams shows the heart break that a young kid goes through when deal with personal tragedy (in this case his parents’ divorce) and yet still remains true-to-himself anyway. Brady Noon excels at his desire to be cool, and still struggle with how coolness affects what he truly loves and wants to ultimately do. All three as a group convincingly take us on a journey that may seem outlandish, yet ultimately feel believable as well.
Good Boys also has a strong supporting cast, that add further dimension to the film. The two “old” girls Lily (Midori Francis) and Hannah (Molly Gordon) are fantastic in their portrayal of two women who simply want their drugs to get high. They will go to almost any lengths to get them back from the boys who stole them and yet end up becoming a bigger part to the film as a whole. Even the well meaning yet clueless parents of Lucas (Lil Rel Howery and Retta) add to the laughs as a couple trying their best to protect their son even as their own lives are driven apart.
Good Boys may come across in previews as a crude comedy with loads of foul language and sexual situations. While at first glance that may be what it is, as you pull back the layers you soon begin to realize that it’s a story, not about the words that are said, but the innocence of youth and what it means to grow apart as friends. The laughs are non-stop and the language excusable because of the innocence of those on the screen who are spouting them. As parents maybe you’d be looking to wash their mouths out with soap, but as the audience you can’t help but think how innocent they truly are. Good Boys is a movie that will resonate with many in the audience, who likely went through some of these very same dilemmas in their own coming of age stories. Maybe not through paintball fights at a frat house, or crossing a busy freeway, but we each have our own unique stories that helped to mold us into who we are today. It’s funny how watching a film like this can make you reminisce on your own experiences, even if it isn’t on the big screen for all to see.
4 out of 5 stars
Second review by Joah Aja
On the first day of junior high when the cool kids invite Max (Jacob Tremblay) to his first kissing party he knows he can’t go without his best friends, Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon). Because the “Bean Bag Boys,” as the three inseparable twelve year olds call themselves, do everything together. Reluctantly they are allowed to come. Now all the trio have to do is figure out how to kiss. Little do they know that something that sounds so simple will take them on a crazy adventure. By the end of the next day they will have skipped school for the first time, unwittingly involved themselves in a drug deal and that’s just the before lunch. Even more they will test the friendship in ways they know will last forever.
The trio of young stars does a fantastic job swashbuckling themselves through adult situations that are way over their head, or appears that way on screen. These taboo moments bring about really funny situations. They are supported but a fun group of both relative new comers (like Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Molly Gordon and Midori Francis) and comedy vets (including Stephen Merchant, Lil Rel Howery, Retta, Sam Richardson and Will Forte) who all have get moments in the film. But the protagonist really carry the film throughout. I thought Williams performance stood out as he delivered some of the funniest moments of the film for me.
This is the film directing debut for Gene Stupnitski who also writes, along with Lee Eisenberg. They pair also wrote together on Year One and Bad Teacher. This coming of age raunchy comedy is also produced by the pair with Evan and Seth Rogen. The later pair have written and produced numerous films, Long Shot, Blockers and Neighbors, to name a few. Rogen and Goldberg also wrote and produced the film Superbad, which this film has a lot of similarities too.
The film definitely will be playing to a certain audience and could alienate some viewers. The situations the three young actors are in are for me right on the line of too far but I can see how others might find it over the line.
The story was familiar but had enough originality to set it apart. The acting at times is a little cheesy for me but overall not bad. The film also has a really good flow with not a lot of dead spots, with an 89 minutes run time it has to pack a lot in. If you are fan of this style of movie I think this movie does not disappoint. I believe seeing in a theater made the experience even more enjoyable.
3.5 out of 5