Directed By Gene Stupinitsky
Starring – Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon
The Plot – Three sixth grade boys (Tremblay, Williams, Noon) ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls (Molly Gordon, Midori Francis), and trying to make their way home in time for their first kissing party.
Rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and adult language throughout, all involving tweens
– Strong humor content. As expected from a series of trailers that articulated precise timing for its adult content, the film itself has no shortage of gut-busting material that constantly pushes the envelope. What matters most is not all of the good stuff is used in those trailers, leaving clever kid-aged quips, inexperienced naivety in mature situations, and a solid bond of chemistry between this trio of infectious personalities, while you would have to be heartless not to indulge in each time they share screen time together. While not as effective as “Booksmart” in terms of its unpredictability factor, “Good Boys” still embellishes enough in its good times to easily make this one of the three best comedies that I have seen thus far in 2019, and establishes youths as an untapped force to be reckoned with for truthful interactions.
– Surprisingly poignant. Perhaps the biggest positive that I pulled from the film was its responsible take for pediatric friendships that most movies don’t have the balls to feed to us through in an honest depiction. As the film progresses, we come to understand that being friends at the age of the boys in this movie is more built on convenience instead of deep-seeded similarities, and soon the air of inevitability rings true in testing them in ways that they never expected. What I love about this is it feeds into the mentality how barely any of us have friends from our childhoods, and the air of borrowed time is something that certainly adds a refreshing claustrophobic weight to the memories that they are currently relishing in. In fact, the entire third act feels like a precedent for the days that are about to come, nearly matching “Superbad” in that somber mall scene, where Michael Cera and Jonah Hill say goodbye for the last time.
– Star-making performances. Everyone already knows how much I adore Jacob Tremblay, after becoming a fan of his in 2016’s “Room”, and his work here is equally committing and precise in his timing for fine quality. So I will use this time to praise the duo of Williams and Noon for the unshakeable impact that they had on the film. Noon was originally who I thought would steal the show, but Williams’ combination of impatient yelling in pressure-filled situations and unique personality was something that allowed him to stand out from his on-screen co-stars. Noon is nearly equally captivating, delivering with a blunt brutality in vocal deposits that hints at a teenage badass in a 12-year-old’s body. These two not only gave me a majority of the laughs in the film, but also proved how far their versatility of emotional range will inevitably play into their blessed futures.
– As a pre-teen film. The coming-of-age story is certainly nothing new in modern cinema, but to document it from this age definitely is, and in doing so takes us through plenty of the complexities associated with junior high that stand in the way of our boys’ progression. For one, I love the anxiety that the film develops, not only with kissing for the first time, but also in the socially awkward enveloping in meeting people who we perceive as being “Cooler” than us. It tackles this as well as impressionable minds living in a grown-up world, and does it with a sense of unshakeable humor in personality, that keeps it from refusing this to ever turn dark in tone. Finally, I love that our trio of boys think so spontaneously. This more times than not gets them into trouble, and creates believable conflicts that evolve thanks in part to the mental incapacities of being placed in situations that they certainly aren’t used to, which in turn allows them to grow with every learning experience.
– A twist with plot devices. There’s a lot of surprises in this area, as a script so heavily outlined by obvious pivotal pieces in the first act weren’t used in ways that I was expecting throughout. For instance, a $600 object gets broken by the boys, and we know that a playing card that one of the boys has will easily solve this convenient conflict, but the refreshing positivity comes in the fact that this isn’t the eventual route that the film takes. In addition to this, a couple of other plot devices are distributed throughout, and not one of them ever materialized into the solution that I was expecting. There was absolutely no way that “Good Boys” was going to be anything but a predictable screenplay, but they pull it off with these momentary lapses of twists that prove that the duo of screenwriters are thinking outside of the box, further preserving an air of urgency that plays brilliantly with the party being only hours away.
– No time stamp. One of my problems with coming-of-age films is that they’re often given this air of modern day production in objects and backdrops that easily makes it a product of this time, in term limiting its appeal with each passing age. But “Good Boys” keeps its soundtrack ambiguous, saving a few familiar tracks only for instances involving humor within school plays or wherever else it doesn’t feel fresh for the setting of this story. In addition to this, there’s nothing in focus, outside of maybe the current day IPhone, that makes it feel like it won’t age well with future re-watches. The technical aspects of the movie are very grounded and conventional, but the productional aspects in set design and timely seamlessness gives the film crossover appeal that these subgenre films don’t often partake in, giving it the one true advantage where it can prosper.
– Highly quotable. What’s the key to any great comedy? Tons of quotes that become a part of pop culture conversation with our peers, and in this respect, the measure of comic firepower in “Good Boys” hits us with a barrage of one-liners and punchlines that I won’t be able to get out of my head for quite some time. Some of my favorites involve words being said wrong, or these loudly boisterous responses that elevate the laugh because of the physicality involved in the heat of the performance, but the cake-taker for me is definitely the hip demeanor with how these clean-cut boys lingo themselves in and out of conversations with their upper class classmates. This wave of slang sweeps over them like a transformational spirit, and soon I found myself whisked away to a time when I too tried to replicate what was hip for the current age.
– Obvious social commentary. My biggest problem with the script easily comes from these unbelievable lines of dialogue that no kid walking this earth would ever say. It mostly deals with female consent when it comes to kissing or any sexual activity, but springs as far as tax abandonment, the difficulty of political aligning, and of course equal rights, which we all know is a huge topic of conversation for eager youths. This wouldn’t be a problem if the film did it once or twice, and then dropped it, but these subject matters are brought up so frequently that it quickly becomes an agenda that the screenwriters are trying to instill, and while they are all admirable ones, they aren’t ones that gel synthetically with a child rendering.
– Plot conveniences. There were a few instances where things didn’t add up, with solutions from conflicts feeling like a disjointed mess in what we the audience are supposed to fill the blanks in with. Without spoiling anything, I refer to two different examples where reality didn’t gel with what transpired. The first is something that the boys buy, and how even without taking it out of the box are able to plug it into their phone to sync-up accordingly. The other one is how a drug dealer who sees the boys only hours before when they interrupted a kiss with his girlfriend, can’t recognize them face-to-face in a drug deal. One could write this off as coincidence, but these matters don’t add up for me, and instilled a level of incohesive storytelling that wore on the longer the film transpired.
– Choppy editing. When the jokes need visual assistance to sell their punchlines, the film fumbles in productional aspects, thanks in part to a framing device in editing that constantly drops the ball. Occasionally, you will get a bad joke that doesn’t land properly, and most of that has to do with a cutting to a character that sometimes happens too quick in terms of cutting, and often times too untimely with where it would better cater to the pause for reaction. Some reactions take too long to get to, and sometimes scenes cut during lines of read dialogue that are pasted together with the next scene in a way that abruptly crushes the prior, and overlaps the latter. It’s clear that this film is at the helm of a first timer in the directing chair, but hopefully with more experience comes a smoother presentation that better accentuates timing.
My Grade: 7/10 or B