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Good Boys

by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Aug 16, 2019
'Good Boys'
'Good Boys'  

Middle school was one hell of a time, and akin to how last year's "Eighth Grade" explored the perspective of a young girl's journey near the tail end of her middle school journey, "Good Boys" focuses on the 6th grade beginnings for three tween boys: Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams). Invited to his first "kissing party," Max employs the help of his friends to learn how to kiss. The boys look up porn, shocked at the images they're seeing. "Get out of there, girl!" yells Lucas.

Much of "Good Boys" follows this idea of plunging its protagonists into a world unknown, where drugs, sex, and romantic relationships begin penetrating their lives as they begin their first steps toward growing up. It's scarily accurate to the middle school experience, especially in how it navigates the concept of crushes and confusion about one's evolving hormones. (Max argues at one point, "Do you know how hard it is to want to rub yourself against a tree all the time?")

You could fairly call "Good Boys" a "Superbad Jr." for the next generation of teenagers, but the film takes on an unexpected identity. Where "Superbad" found its two central characters attempting to bring booze to a party so they can get with the drunk girls they're crushing on, "Good Boys" is a genuinely (and accurately) tame portrayal of what it's like to be growing into one's self. The popular boys argue about who can take the most sips of beer (the record is three), and a kissing party seems like the most terrifying thing in the world.
And, of course, Max, Thor and Lucas' pursuit of kissing expertise leads to an escalating whirlwind of events that finds them being chased by high school girls after inadvertently stealing their Molly, crossing a busy highway, battling a flock of frat boys with a paintball gun, and so much more. It's a hilarious journey that ends up being one of the most purely enjoyable comedies of the year.

The most fascinating aspect of the film is how it presents modern tweens in today's social climate. Max, Thor and Lucas are still in the D.A.R.E. mindset, where they feel it's their duty to keep Molly away from the older girls, and they're particularly "woke" when it comes to their interactions with females. While practicing kissing on a sex doll (one of the many erotic toys the boys encounter throughout the film), Max goes right in for the kiss. "You can't just kiss her!" exclaims Lucas. "You need her consent."

This mindset runs fluidly throughout the film, presenting a generation that promises a future where, perhaps, people respect one another a little more. At the same time, it's still following a group of 12-year-old boys, so swearing, sex talk, and playful banter dominate the dialogue. But most of it is uproariously written, kicking off the laughs strong with Thor's incorrect pronunciation of the word "cum" and keeping them going throughout the film in steady doses. For hearty chuckles aplenty, "Good Boys" certainly delivers.

Much of this comes from the primary performances. Tremblay breaks his image of "that cute boy from 'Room'," and lets loose, embracing his inner raunchiness while still portraying a sweet boy who just wants to kiss the girl he's smitten by. As Thor, Brady Noon embodies a young boy scared to be himself and far too concerned about the opinions of others (he's nicknamed "Sippy Cup" by many of his classmates due to his frequent use of juice boxes). Lucas, on the other hand, is wholeheartedly himself. And Keith L. Williams is going to be a star, mark my words. The kid is a wunderkind of hilarity, and I could've watched an entire movie about his character alone. Together, the three young actors have palpable chemistry, and it makes the film feel as if you're spending time with these friends, rather than simply observing them.

It also has a tender heart at its center, using its juvenile plot to eventually scrutinize the relationships we have when we're young and how they evolve as we get older. Friends drift away from one another and develop new relationships, and the film ultimately communicates that this is okay. It's okay to grow up. The film brings about recollections of a time where everything was a tornado of misunderstanding and then learning. Kids also say "fuck" a lot, and while that's the basic shtick and commercial draw of "Good Boys," the film ends up being far more intricate than it's letting on.

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