By Marc S. Sanders
Jacob Tremblay, Keith L Williams and Brady Noon are the sixth grade Good Boys, a film directed and co-written by Gene Stupnitsky and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This is a hard (very hard) R rated kids comedy adventure. Call it a prequel to Superbad.
Before sixth graders become aware of beer pong parties, the most important thing on their mind is perhaps a kissing party. At least it’s most important to Max (Tremblay). For Lucas (Williams, the MVP of the three kids) he’s broken up to learn his parents are getting a divorce. Thor (Noon, who needs a few more acting lessons) is feeling insecure on a scale of social popularity when all he really wants is to audition for the spring musical.
After Max loses his dad’s valuable drone while the boys are spying on some high school girls in a backyard, they end up stealing their girls’ “mollie” in an effort of blackmail to get the drone back. There’s the spine of the story.
My colleague Miguel E Rodriguez reviewed this film last year. He praised the picture for not making the gags the point of the film. However, I can’t agree with that observation. The thin plot of Good Boys serves as opportunity for one gross out or ridiculous gag after another. Okay. So the boys are unfamiliar with sex toys, particularly “a-nahl beads” or they mistake dad’s sex doll for a “CPR” doll. So when Max practices kissing on the doll, he’s confused as to why the lips feel so sticky.See, I found the main story to be getting the drone back before Max’ dad discovers it’s missing. So then why must I be subjected to imagining how much the beads smell like shit? Why must I see the kids try to cross a busy highway to get to the mall? These are detours, away from the plot. Yeah, they’re funny, but as funny as they are, they push me away from the ends that will justify their means.
An epilogue features one of the kids faking a snort of cocaine. Why? Miguel: these are set up gags. These are exactly the opposite of how you describe their ultimate purposes. None these jokes serve the plot. When I watch “The Goonies,” I get kids who pursue a chance at obtaining a treasure. The mission gets held up by booby traps. Those traps serve as obstacles to the mission at play. Anal beads and a sex doll are not obstacles. They are diversions.
If you want gags to come genuinely from the story then don’t make the mollie or the drone the MacGuffin. Make the sex toys the MacGuffin. These are no more than funny gags. Ultimately, they’re Saturday Night Live skits forced into a film. I laughed yes, but I also grew tired of these bits, that occurred every three to four minutes. What about the drone???? What about the mollie???? I dunno. Maybe with a better trio of boys, I’d be more invested in the film.
Tremblay is the most well known actor (from Room with Brie Larson). Brady Noon is supposed to be the wanna be rebel (he gets an earring), but the sensitive guy on the inside. Williams is the kid who still adheres to good behavior and is not so ready to move on from sleepovers with “Magic The Gathering” card games. Keith L Williams is the best performer of the three in fact. Great physical comedy and timing, as well as some authentic anguish. When the other two boys cry, it’s terribly, TERRIBLY, fake. The problem is the chemistry of three boys is lacking.
Stupnitsky’s coverage of scenes look like rehearsals before the real cameras started rolling. At times, it feels as if the boys, particularly Noon and Tremblay, are trying to think of their next line. When they can’t get the line right, I sense a fast thinking improv that includes shouting the F word. That’s not very funny for very long.
Foul mouthed pre teens are nothing new. Seen it before in The Bad News Bears and once again I say The Goonies. I’m not going to salute Good Boys because these three kids are given carte blanch to utter the F word on an endless cycle. That gets old. Boys uncover sex toys and handle them and naturally act perplexed by what they’ve found; okay, but is there anything more to that?
By no means is Good Boys acceptable for kids to watch. On the other hand, those that can watch a hard R rated flick like this might get a little tired of its material. I know I did. So then who is this film really aimed for? Best guess I could come up with would be a guy I know named Miguel E Rodriguez.