New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Good Boys

This film proves that 6th grade can suck. It’s another raunchy, coming-of-age comedy from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This one skews younger and has it’s moments following the antics of three curious tweens on the brink of puberty. 

The stamp of producers Rogen and Goldberg with Director Gene Stupnitsky writing with Lee Eisenberg (both worked on The Office and Bad Teacher)  is definitely evident in their raw sense of humor. It’s got pieces of American Pie, Superbad, and 40-year-old Virgin (more like 12-year-old) with outrageous set pieces and foul-mouthed talk out of the mouths of babes. Maybe it brought back memories for Rogen and Goldberg whose friendship dates back to when they were about this age. 

Director Gene Stupnitsky manages to create three likeable tween boys.   Max (Jacob Tremblay, Room), Lucas (Keith L. Williams, Fox’s The Last Man On Earth), and Thor (Brady Noon, HBO’s  Boardwalk Empire) who are best friends, and call themselves “The Beanbag Boys,” for their matching l bean bag loungers. 

The over-use of F-bombs is also a hallmark of this team’s moviemaking. It’s uttered so much that it loses any power for shock or humor. Stupnitsky and Eisenberg seem to use it as a crutch. Seeing the angelic-faced Jacob Tremblay spew profanity is not the funniest piece of comedy ever created. The irony in all of this is that the three trash-talking boys aren’t old enough to see their R rated work in a theatre.

Each boy has his own drama to cope with. Max thinks he’s in love with the gorgeous Brixlie (Millie Davis) and needs to learn how to kiss, NOW!  The boys are curious because they’ve been invited to a kissing party and don’t want to admit they don’t know what they’re doing. 

Keith L. Williams as Lucas turns in the most layered performance. Lucas is sensitive kid who loves following the rules, which include saying “No” to drugs and mac ’n’ cheese.” Lucas has just been told his parents are getting a divorce and you feel for this sensitive kid in the scene questioning his parents about just how this will change his life. 

Stupnitsky and Eisenberg also use Lucas as their moral compass to reel in the boys when they go too far. He is a “Me Too” adherent espousing respect for women and hilarious support for the school’s yellow shirted SCAB (Students Coalition Against Bullying) club. They come to rescue anyone who feels threatened forming a whistle blowing human shield. 

Thor is a bad ass, or trying to be. He just has to prove how tough he is by drinking the most sips of beer in front of the cool kids. He’s also insecure about having a good singing voice he thinks could make him seem less than macho.

Every bodily function about sex and love is explored in this film, including sex toys they employ in totally wrong ways. Their male ineptitude is astounding, causing some pretty funny scenes, but they just can’t let the popular kids find out how inexperienced they are. They stoop to using the expensive drone Max’s Dad (Will Forte) absolutely forbids them to touch to spy on a teen couple kissing. It’s for important research!

This is where chase-scene-comedy kicks in involving two high school girls, Hanna (Molly Gordon Booksmart) and Lily (Midoris Francis Ocean’s 8) who introduce them to drugs and some sex education. The end up having some scary and violent moments including an all out paint ball fight with older guys in an Animal House-like frat. Then there’s a life- threatening dash across a busy freeway that causes a major accident with another hilarious outcome. 

The movie keeps switching between their silliness and stupidity about sex showing how tough the transition is going from kid to young adult in a clueless state. Despite the boys’ use of gross language and gimmicks, there is an underlying sweetness to the boys’ friendship. They are navigating the treacherous minefield between boyhood and manhood in today’s world of instant internet information. Porn sites have replaced back alleys for the lowdown on sex. 

Not sure what age audience will be drawn to see this. It’s not exactly family fare. This is a film that delivers too much of what you don’t need from 3 very young boys’ coming-of-age story, but enough heart to keep you interested in these cute kids. Good Boys is OK.

Universal            95 Minutes              R     

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