It’s like “Superbad,” “South Park,” and “Big Mouth” all rolled into one good-hearted romp.
Throughout movie history, kids have been given starring roles in R-rated movies. The best examples would be Will Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, and the late River Phoenix in “Stand By Me;” Abigail Breslin in “Little Miss Sunshine;” Ellar Coltrane in “Boyhood;” and Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, and Jack Dylan Grazer in “It.”
But “Good Boys” is the first one of its kind to mention this statement in the R-rating box: “Strong Crude Sexual Content, Drug And Alcohol Material, And Language Throughout-All Involving Tweens.” And even in the trailers and promos, producer Seth Rogen jokingly tells his young cast Jacob Tremblay (the “Room” and “Wonder” breakout star), Keith L. Williams (TV’s “The Last Man on Earth”), and Brady Noon (“HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) that they can’t watch the movie.
In this type of “Not for Kiddies” genre, “Good Boys” takes its chances, and allows the kid actors to be all “South Park” and “Big Mouth,” by cursing and learning about sexual pleasures. While “The Happytime Murders” abused the R-rating by showing us ugly and disturbing humor, this one is nicer by allowing these kid actors to also have feelings, while balancing the comedy. Sure, it’s a bit predictable and cynical, but it takes risks.
Tremblay, Williams, and Noon play three boys-Max, Lucas, and Thor-who are best friends known as “The Bean Bag Boys.” Why that name? Because they have bean bags, so it makes sense. At least to them, that is. Anyway, in their own personas, Max has a crush on Brixlee (Millie Davis, another “Wonder” star), Lucas’s parents (Lil Rel Howery and Retta) are divorcing, and Thor is insulted by some jerks for wanting to sing in a “Rock of Ages” school musical and for not trying to sip a beer.
Max decides to lead his friends to a kissing party, but they don’t know how to kiss. So, they steal his strict dad’s (Will Forte) forbidden drone in order to spy on some girls (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis) making out. They retaliate by holding the drone hostage, and when Thor steals one of their purses, containing drugs, they go on a series of crazy adventures in order to get rid of them.
The biggest laughs in “Good Boys,” at least in my perspective, is when Thor tries to steal a beer by hiding in his pants, making it look like he has a big Johnson. That obviously doesn’t fool the cop (Sam Richardson), who just wants to go home from his long shift. That’s why he lets the boys off the hook. It may look like a trailer, but it’s mostly honest.
The cynicism and predictability both involve the drug pursuit, but the misadventures are consistent and patient. Besides, it’s also sweet and kind to the boys, because of their own dramas. We might be giggling, sure, but we really care for them, and Tremblay, Williams, and Noon are all exceptional in their own unique ways.
You might say this is a spiritual “Superbad” prequel, despite it being on the edge of 2020, and you’d be right. Especially if Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are both the producers. But if co-writer and director Gene Stupnitsky and co-writer Lee Eisenberg, both of “The Office” fame, are able to hold a delicate balance in humor and heart, then they might have a future as professional filmmakers.
That’s probably just me talking, but who knows?