Review: Good Boys

Score: B+

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon

Running Time: 89 Minutes

Rated: R

It was only a matter of time before the gross-sweet mix of the Seth Rogen brand came for the tweens. After Superbad delivered a dead-on portrayal of nice but perpetually horny high school seniors back in 2007, the same duo has produced essentially the same film for 12-year-olds. Sure, there are some key differences, but the film is exactly what you'd expect it to be: A riotously funny quest to get to a party, with some growing up along the way.

Jacob Tremblay is the most accomplished actor of the trio, having reduced audiences to blubbering messes in Room opposite Brie Larson. He plays Max, the de facto leader of the Bean Bag Boys, alongside needy Thor (Brady Noon) and sensitive Lucas (Keith L. Williams, the film's breakout star). The cool kids have invited them to a party, where Max's crush Brixlee (Millie Davis) will be. It's a series of mishaps and misunderstandings of how the world works that keep them from getting there directly.

Almost all of the episodes are hilarious, especially as these 12-year-olds navigate the world of drug dealers, douchey frat bros and one extremely creepy card collector (Stephen Merchant). Thankfully this is not a movie where all the funny spots were in the trailers and TV spots.

The film, of course, is sweet as well. This would have been unexpected had we not been living in the Judd Apatow era for nearly 15 years. Max is the only one experiencing romantic feelings, creating a strain on the friendship. Thor is so desperate to be accepted by boys outside his group that he's willing to reject the things he enjoyed and cave to peer pressure just to be near cool kids. And Lucas's parents (Retta and Lil Rel Howery) are getting divorced. It's also notable that a lot of this was covered in the latest season of Stranger Things, which is exactly what their neighbor's dickish boyfriend calls them early in the film.

Good Boys doesn't do anything to reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't have to. It's a raunchy but thoughtful comedy that provides big laughs and enough heart that it doesn't seem disjointed. These boys are very good indeed.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.