Being bad feels pretty good: Good Boys review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

From Superbad to American Pie and everything in between, we’ve all seen a handful of crude comedies revolving around unfortunate yet hilarious misadventures. For example, every film you’ve seen and guessed that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were behind it before even seeing the credits. It’s even prevalent on television: Workaholics, Broad City. The crude adult comedy is a genre in itself: home to characters that are sometimes sleazy, sometimes schlocky, always unintentionally funny.

But now that we’ve seen it all again and again, how can filmmakers now reinvent the raunchy, R-rated adult comedy? Consider this: no adults.

You already know Jacob Tremblay — at only 12, he’s been revered for his emotional performance in Oscar-nominated Room — but you certainly don’t know him brandishing a (paintball, admittedly) gun in a frat house and demanding to be sold drugs despite his age.

Tremblay has a charming turn as adorably innocent Max, a boy whose biggest worry in life at the beginning of the film is the looming threat of his first kiss with a girl (appropriately named Brixlee for 2019) he has yet to have made eye contact with. Accompanying Max on his adventure are sheltered and strait-laced Lucas (Keith L. Williams), whose fatal flaw is his inability to tell a lie (let alone keep his mouth shut to avoid the horrible truth) and Thor (Brady Noon), a boy so desperate for popularity he sacrificed his musical audition and — you won’t believe this — even almost took a sip of beer one time (although, his inability to do so earned him the infamous nickname “Sippy Cup”).

Wanting to be prepared for their first middle school “kissing party”, the group of friends do what I’m sure we all once did at their age: steal Max’s father’s drone and use it to spy on a couple, hoping to catch them lock lips. As you can probably predict, this plan falls apart when the drone does. The boys then embark on a mission to replace it before Max’s dad gets home — cue a chaotic adventure larger than our protagonists.

The jokes are hit-or-miss, but when they hit, they hit hard. At times, the comedy was low-reaching, with punchlines simply being childhood naivety or — in real middle school fashion — physical gags and one-note stupidity. For an R-rated film, the humour sometimes — particularly within the film’s first act — felt as though it was targeted towards the characters in it rather than adults. Yet, seemingly throwaway lines showcased the occasional wit of the writers as well as the excellent comedic timing of the cast.

If nothing else, Good Boys is charming. Despite being loaded with children dropping f-bombs and sex jokes, Good Boys is easily the most wholesome movie I’ve seen so far this year. There’s a lot of heart in this film. Part of this is due to the boys’ unwavering devotion to each other, even though there are a few missed opportunities and pacing issues in the subplot surrounding their friendship. The poignant moments that tend to always wiggle into a crude buddy comedy — picture the wistful look between the two leads that caps off Superbad — appear abruptly towards the end and feel forced at times, but still manage to hit close to home when you look back on your days in middle school.

It’s the performances from the three leads that add warmth to the film. There’s a genuine camaraderie to the group of boys. The misadventures that pile on top of each other to form the typical “one wild night out” plot are really only there to afford room to hundreds of raunchy one-liners, but it’s all delivered earnestly from the three boys at the helm of it. You’re invested in them and, for the most part, you want the best for them — except for when you want them to be a little bad. You know, the asking-for-consent-before-practicing-kissing-on-a-doll kind of bad.

 

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