Good Boys (Review)

There is always an inherent risk in placing adult-themed comedy into the hands of a ‘tween’ cast of actors. Creating a potentially uncomfortable mix of kids, bad language and sexualised jokes. As adult humour interfaces with the sensibility of maintaining childhood innocence. Good Boys, therefore, had a difficult path to navigate in traversing the integrity and exploration of 11 and 12-year-old boys, with the humour and raucous energy of older teenage films such as Superbad and Booksmart. However, writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, carefully navigate this minefield with a fresh and energetic comedy. While mixing classic coming of age themes with laugh out loud comedy. Not only poking fun at its adult audience but also maintaining the innocence of early adolescence.

Good Boys wraps the final years of childhood wonder with the painful transition to a more adult world. One where kids use words and brag about themes that are often alien to them. Their minds fluctuating between the desire for teenage experiences and pull of remaining children forever. While adults are mysterious and aloof figures that merely provide comfort and warmth. And refuse to share their worldly knowledge with their children in the hope that they will never truly grow up.

(from left) Lucas (Keith L. Williams), Thor (Brady Noon) and Max (Jacob Tremblay) in Good Boys, written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and directed by Stupnitsky.

Directed by Gene Stupnitsky (The Office) and Produced by Seth Rogan (Bad Neighbours) Good Boys inhabits the familiar landscape of teen comedy, while also challenging the audience with a tween cast. Max (Jacob Tremblay) Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) are desperately searching for experiences that will transform their school life from inexperienced child to cool young teenager. As they navigate the social structures and pitfalls of the 6th Grade. Each of our boys focussed on how they can change to fit in with developing school subcultures. While also trying to navigate the tricky and highly confusing transition from child to teenager.

Desperate to hang out with his first crush Brixlee (Millie Davis) at a kissing party, Max enlists the help of his friends. Their mission is the discovery of how kissing works before the party. The solution being the risky use of his dad’s drone to spy on the older ‘kissing’ teenagers living on his street. However, the drone plan dramatically fails and the boys find themselves in conflict with two older high school girls (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis). Leading to a day of pre-teen danger, group bonding, cartoon-like escapes and humour. As the boy’s mission to attend the kissing party at any cost becomes a journey of self-discovery for each boy.

What makes Good Boys so fresh is a script that pays homage to the childhood logic and fear that pervades pre-teen life. The boys believing they have all answers while in fact still living in the protective bubble wrap of childhood. While never allowing the young characters to become tools for adult humour, reflecting back to the audience the silliness and innocence of the transition from tween to teen. This dynamic allows Good Boys to sit between both the adult comedy genre and the coming of age genre. As our intrepid group of tweens echo the joy, pain and humour of being 12.

Good Boys asks us all to remember the imagination, adventure and fear of tween life. While dovetailing the desire to grow up with the humour of childhood imagination. Yes, it’s rude, but it’s also full of incredible warmth, humour and tenderness. Delivering a truly sweet comedy that takes you by surprise in its ability to reflect the void between childhood and adolescence and the growth, humour and loss inherent within it.

Director:  Gene Stupnitsky

Cast: Jacob TremblayKeith L. WilliamsBrady Noon

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