Good Boys – From the Archive (November 2020)

Good Boys was originally reviewed on the 13th August 2019

There is always an inherent risk in placing adult-themed comedy into the hands of a ‘tween’ cast of actors. With the result, more often than not, leading to an uncomfortable mix of kids, foul language and sexualised jokes. Good Boys, therefore, had a difficult path to walk in ensuring its screenplay maintained the innocence and exploration of being twelve. While at the same time, lacing the narrative with the humour and raucous energy of older teen flicks such as Superbad. Thankfully, writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, carefully navigate this minefield with a genuinely fresh and energetic comedy. One where coming of age themes find themselves delicately mixed with laugh out loud comedy. In a screenplay, that pokes fun at its adult audience while maintaining the innocence of early adolescence.

Good Boys wraps the final years of childhood wonder with the painful transition to a more adult world. A world where kids embrace new words and brag about themes and experiences that are more often than not alien to them. Their young minds fluctuating between the desire for adult experiences and the safety of remaining a child forever. While at the same time adults remain a mystery, their main purpose the provision of meals, comfort and warmth.

Desperate to hang out with his first big crush, Brixlee (Millie Davis) at a risque kissing party. Max (Jacob Tremblay) enlists the help of his friends Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) to gain access to the elusive party. Their mission, the discovery of how kissing works before the important gathering; the solution, using Max’s dad’s drone to spy on the older teenagers living down the street.

However, when the drone plan dramatically fails, the boys find themselves in conflict with two older high school girls (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis). Their mission now including the recovery of the crashed drone before Max’s dad gets home. With the resulting 24 hour’s full of danger, group bonding, cartoon-like escapes and humour. As the boy’s mission to recover the drone and attend the kissing party becomes a journey of self-discovery.

Directed by Gene Stupnitsky (The Office) and Produced by Seth Rogan (Bad Neighbours). Good Boys inhabits the same world as many of the teen comedies that have come before it. While at the same time charting new ground, in its mix of pre-teen and adult comedy. With young Max, Lucas and Thor desperately searching for experiences that will transform them from kids into cool young teenagers. Each boy exploring the world around them in a vain effort to transform into the teenagers they want to become.

However, what makes Good Boys work is an intelligent screenplay that reflects the logic and fears of pre-teen life. Each boy sitting on the precipice of teenage life while still living in the protective bubble of childhood. The movie’s humour, never attempting or allowing its young characters to become vehicles of adult ridicule. And it’s here where Good Boys achieves something unique and rare. By dovetailing a classic coming of age narrative with the comedic energy of National Lampoons and John Hughes. While also maintaining the innocence and experimentation of the transition from tween to teen.

The result is a movie that glows with the innocence, adventure and imagination of tween life. The unique bonds of friendship, secretive conversations and need for control dovetailed with the harsh awakening to an adult world. And while Good Boys is rude, and at times brash and silly, it’s also full of incredible warmth and tenderness. Its ability to reflect the void between childhood and adolescence, singing with humour and sincerity.

(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.

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Cast:  Jacob TremblayKeith L. WilliamsBrady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis