Good Boys (Review)

There is always an inherent risk in placing adult themed comedy into the hands of a ‘tween’ cast of actors. The result being a potentially uncomfortable mix of young teens, bad language and sexual jokes. With adult humour interfacing with the sensibility of ensuring childhood innocence is maintained. Good Boys therefore had a difficult path to navigate. In traversing the innocence 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, with Good Boys 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 inexpereinced 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 sub cultures. 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 being the discovery of how kissing works before the party. The solution being the risky use of his dads 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 boys mission to attend the kissing party at any cost becomes a journey of self discovery for each boy.

(from left) Lily (Midori Francis), Max (Jacob Tremblay) and Hannah (Molly Gordon) in Good Boys, written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and directed by Stupnitsky.

What makes Good Boys so fresh is a script that plays 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, instead 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, its 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


More to read…

Essential Coming of Age Films

The Goonies – 30th Anniversary Retrospective

IT (2017) – The childhood fears we never relinquish

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