Film Review – Good Boys (2019)

“No, it means she can have sex on land and on sea”. The poor boys, not even out of “Tween World” just yet and they are already confusing themselves over what a nymphomaniac actually is. For the record, that’s nowhere close but the laughter it generates is nothing short of infectious as this is just one of the many zingers, put-downs and generally hilarious moments to be found in Good Boys. It won’t be for everyone, we can assure you of that, but such is its combination of laughs and feels, as well as its honest depiction of growing pains, particularly in the Device Age, that it certainly won’t be without fans for many years to come.

The Good Boys of our tale are the self-named Bean Bag Boys: Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon), friends since they were wee ones and who are inseparable when it comes to school, gaming and everything in between. With an impending kissing party on the horizon, the trio realise they know nothing about the subject and, after a quick internet search and some covert spying on their university student neighbour, begin their own Quest for the Holy Grail, of sorts.

Despite what you may have been led to believe, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are simply producers this time: nurturing the film through their Point Grey Productions, this isn’t their baby in the same way that Superbad was back in 2007, but that doesn’t mean their fingerprints aren’t all over it. Hell, the film’s trailers have Rogen telling the boys that because the trailer is rated R they can’t even watch the trailer to their own film.

This is Superbad for the Instagram/Stranger Things generation in many ways but there’s arguably more to it: whilst the boys are busy learning about sex, sexism and sexuality with CPR dolls and misguided information on tampons, sex toys and drugs as their “guide”, there’s a wonderfully innocence and sweetness to the film that separates it from their aforementioned film and, indeed, Sausage Party. It’s an age where naviety is the norm and where a sip of beer is worth a thousand “likes” and writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, who worked on the US version of The Office and the hopelessly unfunny Year One, brilliant combine 21st century teen life with a real heart and soul.

Key to the film’s success is its cast and all three of the boys are exemplary: Jacob Tremblay continues his rise to megastardom with another brilliant turn as Max whose desperation to impress one of his classmates, who he is hopelessly in love with, is the catalyst for the boys’ mission; Noon brings an energetic edginess to the film whilst Williams, easily the standout, is the grounded, thoughtful Lucas whose sincerity and loyal moral compass brings them back to Earth, particularly in the heartfelt finale.

A coming-of-age tale with a twist, Good Boys is at times puerile and immature for sure, but that’s the point: this is a tale that’s about a trio of friends who are both those things and more, but they never mean any harm and through its genuinely affecting friendship and the lessons they learn along the way, the film is elevated above many others of a similar ilk. And that’s no bad thing.

Scott J.Davis | [rating=4]

Comedy | USA, 2019 | 15 | Universal Pictures | 16th August 2019 (UK, USA) | Dir.Gene Stupnitsky | Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Will Forte