Good Boys

 

starstarstarhalf

 


Three 12-year-old boys grow up fast in this morally challenging, often very funny gross-out comedy.

   

Good Boys

The trouble with girls: Midori Francis, Jacob Tremblay and Molly Gordon 

 

In this year’s Booksmart, two schoolgirls navigate a series of escapades in order to make it to the Big Party before they graduate. In many ways it was a distaff riff on Superbad (2007), the cult comedy in which two schoolboys navigate a series of misadventures before making it to the Big Party before they graduate. The latter was scripted by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who now take on the mantle of producers on this junior high school comedy about three best friends who have to overcome all sorts of obstacles in order to make it to, yes, a significant social gathering. To up the ante, the scriptwriters Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky have lowered the age. Max, Lucas and Thor are just twelve-years-old and the party that they’re desperate to attend involves, um, a lot of kissing – full mouth-to-mouth smooching.

 

By placing sixth-graders into a raunchy comedy which, by British law, they are too young to see in the cinema, the film creates an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, it mines a rich seam of comic gold as the kids grapple to comprehend a sex-crazed adult world; on the other, it highlights a huge sadness in our society that twelve-year-olds are denied any right to an ordinary childhood. At one point, when the boys’ attempt to spy on some teenage kissing goes awry, Lucas (Keith L. Williams) concedes, “This is not working – maybe we should go and climb a tree.” Not cool. Instead, Max – the shortest of the trio – adopts a nonsensical patois in order to sound, like, wicked: “Do you feel me, Dog?”

 

The cherub-faced, twelve-year-old Jacob Tremblay is perfect casting as the sweet, butter-wouldn’t-melt protagonist. The first sentence out of his mouth contains the ‘f’ word, which will come as a shock to those who know Tremblay from such films as Room (2015) and Wonder (2017). A lot of the enjoyment will depend on one’s open-mindedness to such prurient shenanigans involving porn sites, sex toys and constant bad language. Yet thanks to Eisenberg and Stupnitsky’s smart screenplay, much of it is very funny, whatever one’s misgivings. A lot of the laughs are generated by the excellent playing of Williams, whose high-pitched squeals and inability to screen the truth from authority figures proves to be a riot. There is also a wonderful cameo from Stephen Merchant as a creepy stranger negotiating a price for a CPR doll. More problematic is the scene (played for laughs) in which Max, Lucas and Thor attempt to negotiate a freeway on foot – not something to be emulated by anybody of any age. Enid Blyton would have been horrified.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Will Forte, Molly Gordon, Lil Rel Howery, Retta, Midori Francis, Josh Caras, Christian Scott, Michaela Watkins, Millie Davis, Sam Richardson, Chance Hurtsfield, Izaac Wang, Stephen Merchant, Mariessa Portelance, Zoriah Wong.

 

Dir Gene Stupnitsky, Pro Lee Eisenberg, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver and Jonah Hill, Screenplay Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, Ph Jonathan Furmanski, Pro Des Jeremy Stanbridge, Ed Daniel Gabbe, Music Lyle Workman.

 

Good Universe/Point Grey Pictures/Quantity Entertainment-Universal Pictures.

89 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 16 August 2019. Cert. 15.