For as long as the genre has existed, comedies have attempted to test the limits of what can be shown on screen. Sure, their main goal is to make us laugh. However, sometimes the funniest things we see are some of the more shocking things. Very few comedies try and do that today, because of the overabundance of people who are offended by everything. Though some movies try, and the new film Good Boys, from the producing team of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, attempts to make an R-rated comedy about kids. Talk about risky territory.
The film follows three best friends, Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon), and Lucas (Keith L. Williams), who have been doing everything together for as long as they can remember. They have a bond that can never be tested no matter what. So, when Max is invited to his first kissing party by the popular kids, he is stressed that he won’t know how to kiss the girl of his dreams.
This leads to the three using Max dad’s drone to spy on his teenage neighbor Hannah (Molly Gordon). However, this causes the drone to be confiscated by her and her friend Lily (Midori Francis). Thor steals Hannah’s handbag as collateral, but they end up with illegal drugs that the girls will do anything to get back. This leads the three friends on a journey around town that takes them from one bad decision to another, putting them at odds with cops, frat boys, and even each other.
While it may be off-putting to watch preteen boys constantly swear and play with BDSM attire, that’s the whole point of the film. Much like 2016’s Sausage Party was an R-rated take on animated family films, this film is like an R-rated take on goofy kid comedies you might see on Nickelodeon. Your ability to accept something like that will definitely determine whether or not you like it.
For those willing to, you’re in for a real treat. Good Boys delivers more than enough brilliantly timed jokes and gross-out gags to make-up for its somewhat weak story, and even has an unexpected heart to it that may bring a tear to some people’s eyes. It also has a surprisingly well-handled message about the powers of friendship and what it means to truly be a kid, and manages to make it universally relatable to the adults this film was made for (since kids really shouldn’t see this film).
It’s the three young leads that really blow it out of the water. Tremblay, Noon, and Williams feel like actual best friends, and watching them play with and explore adult things they don’t have a full grasp on is an absolute delight. One of the funniest scenes involves the boys arming themselves with sex-themed toys and masks that they believe are weapons, then confronting a total stranger armed and dressed with them. It’s priceless.
The real highlight performance here, however, is Jacob Tremblay. Ever since 2015’s Room, he has been one of the most talented child actors working today. He’s only 12 and he hasn’t had one bad performance yet. Even though last year’s The Predator was terrible, he was the one good thing about it. Here, he really gets to try something new and test the waters of a different kind of character and he nails it. It’s good that he’s doing this at such an early age, so it might be easier for him to transition to adult acting as he gets older.
Sure, the humor does stay in the “highly profane” range for practically the entire runtime, and fully relies on the adult things the characters do and say. However, the film manages to handle this by delivering one gut-busting joke after another. Pretty much ever single jokes sticks a strong landing, and even when some don’t, they are immediately followed some that do. Very few comedies these days are capable of that.
As said above, the one thing that brings the film down a bit is its story. It doesn’t have the strongest story to back up its creative humor. Max, Thor, and Lucas’s adventure just feels like going from one backdrop to the next to setup the next series of gags. This causes the film to slow down in places, and sometimes makes us pine for the next gag. It manages to get by; just not as well as one might have hoped.
However, the story isn’t a complete wreck. In fact, it does something that most comedies these days don’t even try to include: it has a heart. Beneath all the crude humor lies a surprisingly heart warming side that makes us actually care for the characters. Most modern comedies would do away with the heart, creating characters who we don’t care about. This movie is filled with characters that we care for because they feel like actual human beings who care for each other. Even the villainous teenage girls they encounter have their likable moments. It may even be enough to bring a tear to someone’s eye.
Good Boys may not end up becoming a comedy classic, but it successfully pushes the boundaries of what can and can’t be shown on a film without overstaying its welcome. It manages to balance its profane humor with a genuine heart, and is led by three great performances from its adorable leads. It doesn’t just test the limits, but actually tries to deliver a true standout within it’s crowded sub-genre, and it very much succeeds.