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Good Boys
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Kids Say (And Do) The Darndest F*#$%(@ Things"
4 stars

From the increasingly bizarre twists and turns of the plot to the sight of a group of 11-year-old boys swearing like truck drivers (which I believe is still the standard by which profanity is based) while confronting mysteries of life ranging from knowing how to kiss to why that string of beads taken from a parental bedroom smells so bad, “Good Boys” is essentially an extended episode of “South Park” that has been presented in live-action instead of crude animation. Whether or not this represents progress is, of course, up to you.

Here, three 11-year-old pals—brash drama king Thor (Brady Noon), oversized do-gooder Lucas (Keith I. Williams) and in-the-middle Max (Jacob Tremblay)—have just begun to navigate the halls of junior high when one of the cool kids invites Max (and, by extension, the other two) to a party—a kissing party, no less—which his classmate crush is also planning on attending. The only problem is that Max and the others have no idea of how to kiss and when a tour of the Internet proves to be unhelpful, it is decided to use the drone belonging to Max’s father (Will Forte) to spy on neighbor girl Hannah (Molly Gordon) kissing her boyfriend. When she and friend Lily (Midori Francis) grab the drone and refuse to give it back, the guys retaliate by stealing Hannah’s purse, which contains a vitamin bottle full of molly. Before long, the drone is destroyed, the molly is lost and the guys undergo a series of increasingly bizarre misadventures that threaten not only Max’s chances of getting his kiss but also the seemingly unshakable bond between the three lifelong friends.

Much of the humor in “Good Boys” comes from the sight of young boys cursing, participating in drug deals, trying to puzzle out the potential uses of various sex toys and other things that safely lodge it into “R”-rated territory and which will no doubt make it a sleepover party favorite for the tween set for years to come. The result is offensive enough, I suppose, but in a patently inoffensive manner that practically begs reviewers to describe it as “sweet” as they did two decades earlier with the likes of “American Pie.” To these ears, hearing kids dropping f-bombs willy-nilly maintains itself as a source of genuine amusement for only a certain amount of time and beyond that, it begins to get a little tiresome. I also kind of wish that co-writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (the latter also directed in an appropriately ramshackle manner) had taken the chance to play with the gender dynamics a little instead of making the story so relentlessly guy-centered—Max’s crush gets maybe four lines of dialogue tops and while the two older girls get some big laughs, they only have a limited amount of screen time (though, in one of the film’s smartest moves, they are brought back at the end to invoke much-needed words of wisdom). The ending doesn’t quite work either—although it is trying to make the smart point that even seemingly inseparable young friends may find themselves inevitably growing apart as they get older, it doesn’t quite make the point that this would happen to the three friends here in these particular circumstances.

And yet, despite the rough patches and missed opportunities, “Good Boys” has a sloppily genial tone to it that should eventually win most viewers over to some degree. The three young actors at the center play well off of each other throughout and there are enough genuinely funny moments throughout to make it worth checking out (though it might be best to leave the kids at home). Oddly, the funniest moments are not so much the vulgar ones as the ones where a line of weirdo genius dialogue floats in from out of nowhere and basically blindsides you with its pitch-perfect silliness—the best of these moments comes towards the end when Max cuts a class bully to size with a rejoinder so strange and yet so strangely apt that I probably laughed harder at that than I have at most full-length comedies I could mention.

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originally posted: 08/16/19 13:03:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/17/19 Bob Dog Superb blend of coming of age / R-rated comedy movies! 5 stars
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  16-Aug-2019 (R)
  DVD: 12-Nov-2019


  DVD: 12-Nov-2019

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