Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Running Time: 89 mins
Good Boys is an American film about a chaotic day for three sixth-graders, as they skip school, accidentally carry drugs and traverse their town while being pursued by a pair of determined teenage girls, all with the intention of making it back in time for the party of a lifetime.
With a premise that works as a blend between Superbad and Sausage Party, Good Boys has all the potential to be a properly funny watch, but even more potential to be a grating and irritating mess. Fortunately, it avoids the latter throughout, impressing with genuinely funny comedy, three great central performances, and a story that – while pretty much another rehash of Superbad – has got a little bit of heartwarming depth to it, making Good Boys a genuinely enjoyable and often really sweet watch.
First things first, though, the main reason you’ll be watching this film is for a bunch of swearing twelve year-olds. Now, it’s a fun premise that does feel a bit risqué at first, but much like Sausage Party, it’s an idea that relies heavily on shock value – something that can wear thin very fast.
The reason that Good Boys works where Sausage Party doesn’t, however, is that it gives a little bit of context and reason to that shock value. Vulgar fruit and vegetables are a funny idea for about five minutes, whereas the fun of Good Boys actually comes from laughing at the characters’ innocence about the adult world – even if they pretend to act like big grown-up teenagers.
And that’s what I loved most about this movie. It would be so easy to make an R-rated movie like this star sixth-graders that just act like teenagers, but Good Boys never forgets that its main characters are still young kids, and even when they’re swearing and getting up to all sorts of adolescent mischief, they’re still sixth-graders at heart: naive about the world around them, and wonderfully genuine and sweet to the core.
So, while Good Boys has some really great laughs throughout – and the shock value of a trio of twelve year-olds caught up in an R-rated world endures really well – one of its other strongest points is its surprisingly genuine and heartwarming emotional centre, telling a coming-of-age tale that we don’t often get to see on the big screen.
Of course, the core focus of the film is comedy, and it does a good job at that right the way through. However, Good Boys also has a story worth paying attention to, as it focuses on the world of young kids trying to grow up and fit into the adolescent world – shaking off their innocence as they begin to navigate the complexities of society for the first time.
Most coming-of-age movies focus on late teenagers moving towards the adult world, so it was really refreshing to see a film tackle the struggles of even younger kids as they grow up, all the while telling a genuinely heartwarming story about staying true to yourself, even when you and your best of friends begin to grow apart.
From that, it’s clear that Good Boys is actually a lot more than the vulgar comedy it seems to set up as being, with real heart and likability that’s furthered not only by good humour but also three dynamite central performances from Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon, all of whom pull off the difficult balance of acting just enough like a kid while still fitting into an R-rated movie without a problem.
Overall, I had a great time with Good Boys. A great comedy with good laughs and likable characters, as well as a refreshing story with a lot more depth than you might expect at first, it’s a surprising but most importantly thoroughly entertaining watch right the way through, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.