Like many R-rated comedies, there’s always a risk associated with pushing the humor to a limit that becomes crude – if there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that this is a film that could’ve easily gone awry had it done just that. Directed by Gene Stupnitsky – Good Boys follows the story of three sixth grade kids who are invited to a kissing party by one of the most popular kids in school and what they’re willing to do to get to that party in one piece. For the most part Good Boys stays true to its name, keeping a tempered level of profanity and shock value to keep things interesting and that’s ultimately all one can ask for from a comedy. True comedy films are becoming rarer by the day, as the entertainment industry aims more at theatrics and drama nowadays than it does comedy.
The cast chemistry and balanced humor are the primary features that allow Good Boys to be a funny and meaningful comedic flick. Had only one of those things not landed, this film would’ve likely slipped out of the radar and into the land of forgotten films of 2019. Directed by Gene Stupnitsky – Good Boys follows the story of three sixth grade kids who are invited to a kissing party by one of the most popular kids in school and what they’re willing to do to get to that party in one piece.
As a story, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that it follows similar beats as Superbad (2007) – not only in regards to its comedic style or general plot similarities, but also its message. Good Boys is a coming-of-age story – one that is as much about growing up as it is about growing apart. It’s a story that seeks to show you that we grow at different rates and in different ways – despite wanting things to stay the way they are. Sure, this may not hit with the same emotional gut-punch as Superbad or even similar coming-of-age stories – but the message is there and does provide at least a meaningful impact.
In terms of its cast Good Boys is well behaved; all three cast members bring their own unique personalities to the table, providing a fun and charismatic back-and-forth that succeeds more than it falters. Tremblay, Williams and Noon did an admirable job portraying their characters as Max, Lucas and Thor. Despite Jacob Tremblay being the most experienced out of the trio, all three remain fairly even in terms of their performance quality – I’d award gold stars for all three of these young actors. The on-screen banter between these obnoxious sixth graders makes their interactions with the wider world that much more entertaining – from their ball-busting humor to their exaggerated loyalty to one another – it all works. We are also met with a duo of young women that spend the day stalking the trio throughout the course of the film, on the hunt for their stolen MDMA so they can go to a musical concert across the state – they bring an additional spark to the film, providing fun interactions with the trio.
Good Boys keeps its pace tight – like young kids hopped up on candy and energy drinks – the movement is non-stop and its mischief is never-ending. The amount of ground this film covers is extensive – from the locations we visit to the chaos that these mischief-makers trail behind – this film felt densely packed in-spite of its relatively short runtime.
In terms of its visuals, well they’re not exactly much of a presence; sure, this is a comedy and it certainly doesn’t require superb camera-work and an inventive visual flavour to meaningfully change the films comedic impact – but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if it had it. This is about as visually stock-standard as a comedy comes; with a standard two-camera setup and basic production design – its as though the director doesn’t want us to see the setting. Unlike recent comedies such as Game Night (2018) and yes… Superbad (2007) – we’re left with a fairly lifeless visual style here despite it taking the perspective of three young kids with wild imaginations. Aside from not bringing additional emotional impact, character complexity, and more witty humor – the larger downside of this film was certainly its overall visual aesthetic.
Director Gene Stupnitsky brings out solid performances from these child actors; managing to bind together a film that is both funny and emotional enough to live up to its name. Sure, this isn’t a pivotal comedy like Superbad that kick-starts superstar careers – but it works well enough as a watered-down alternative. Boisterous, potty-mouthed, and writhe with the same energy as Superbad (2007) — Good Boys invites audiences into a boys-only clubhouse of immaturity, puberty, and the reality of growing apart. Good Boys is like that childhood candy you taste as an adult, something about it just isn’t as good, but it’s enough to provide you with an enjoyable trip down memory lane.