GOOD BOYS review by Mark Walters – Jacob Tremblay & buddies get into hilarious R-rated trouble

GOOD BOYS review by Mark Walters – Jacob Tremblay & buddies get into hilarious R-rated trouble

People have been wondering what ROOM‘s standout co-star Jacob Tremblay would do following his breakout performance in that film. He’s appeared in a few movies since in supporting roles, like THE BOOK OF HENRY and THE PREDATOR, but the new comedy GOOD BOYS puts him pretty much in the lead. Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the R-rated comedy about kids also stars Brady Noon (BOARDWALK EMPIRE) and Keith L. Williams (LAST MAN ON EARTH) as Tremblay’s friends, and the great Will Forte as his father. Make no mistake, this isn’t a sweet coming-of-age story meant for families, but rather an R-rated raunchy comedy that just happens to have kids in the lead.

The studio plot description pretty much sums up the film:

After being invited to his first kissing party, 12-year-old Max (Tremblay) is panicking because he doesn’t know how to kiss. Eager for some pointers, Max and his best friends Thor (Noon) and Lucas (Williams) decide to use Max’s dad’s drone – which Max is forbidden to touch – to spy (they think) on a teenage couple making out next door. But when things go ridiculously wrong, the drone is destroyed. Desperate to replace it before Max’s dad (Forte) gets home, the boys skip school and set off on an odyssey of epically bad decisions involving some accidentally stolen drugs, frat-house paintball, and running from both the cops and terrifying teenage girls (LIFE OF THE PARTY‘s Molly Gordon and OCEAN’S EIGHT‘s Midori Francis).

But in all honesty, the “plot” here isn’t all that important, as the fun is watching these three boys being awkward tweens who want so desperately to fit in with the cool kids that they’re trying to act cool… and very often not succeeding. There’s a fun innocence to these three that really feels sincere and easy to relate to, immediately reminding the audience what it was like during those awkward school years. At first I wondered why Rogen and Goldberg would even want to make a film like this, centering around three young boys surrounded by grown up humor, but as I watched it I started to understand – we’ve all had moments where we recounted experiences from our adolescence that were (by adult standards) kind of embarrassing and not necessarily age appropriate. In short, this a film for adults about what it’s like to be a kid.

Tremblay is inspired casting, and in many ways is perfect as he has a earnest sincerity about him, all while still finding ways to screw up by accident. There’s a fun nobility to his performance, and it makes it that much funnier when he does something really silly. Brady Noon is very amusing playing “Thor”, a young man who has a magnificent singing voice and is perfect for the school play, but is too worried how the theater will make him look to his classmates. He’s so worried about his perception from others that he can only seem to be himself in private around his two closest friends, and even they feel like his insecurity is starting to hurt him. Keith L. Williams is terrific as the kid who just can’t keep his mouth shut, ratting out his friends and himself out of guilt, and hilariously screaming like a girl whenever anything unexpected happens. His parents drop a bomb on him saying they’re getting a divorce, but he can’t even bring himself to share this with his closest friends as he doesn’t want to share his shame… the irony of him keeping this news secret when he can’t keep his mouth shut about their devious deeds isn’t lost on us either. I wish there was a bit more of Will Forte in the film, but his early scenes are quite hilarious and effective.

One thing I greatly respected the movie for was acknowledging the idea that childhood friends aren’t always best friends for life, and are frequently only friends out of convenience or the proximity of their parents homes. Eventually these boys must move on, and sometimes letting go of their security blankets (in this case each other) is the only way they can successfully grow and evolve. GOOD BOYS has a surprising amount of heart mixed in with it’s sometimes outrageous moments. There’s a sweet emotional resonance that saves this from becoming what easily could have been a forgettable comedy. That’s not to say it isn’t hilarious, because at times it really is – there’s a scene in a frat house that had me in tears from laughing so hard. Whether you’re close in age to the leads or just a child at heart, chances are you’ll enjoy this pre-teen adventure.

GOOD BOYS opens August 16, 2019

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.