There’s an undeniable tension at the heart of “Good Boys,” Hollywood’s latest raunch-fest.
Here are three boys … boys, mind you, and they just want to act their age. In fact, they’re desperate to do just that.
The culture won’t let them. Nor will this movie.
“Good Boys” walks a web-thin line between moral decay and decency. Sure, these kids wield sex toys like nunchucks, but they don’t really know the difference.
What saves “Good Boys” from itself? A trio of confident young stars and a screenplay smart enough to deliver big laughs between the debauchery.
Max, Thor and Lucas (Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams) find their entrance to sixth grade blocked by bullies and budding hormones. The former are tough enough, but the latter really have them medium hot and bothered.
So when Max lands an invite to a “kissing party” his fellow “Beanbag Boys” freak out. Then, they hatch a plan to prepare for potential lip locking. The scheme involves Molly-obsessed neighbors, an irreplaceable drone and fears that childhood bonds don’t last forever.
“Good Boys” is shrewd enough to focus on the last of the three themes. That’s part of the fraying Apatow formula, one that misses the master’s touch. You can be as gross as possible and get away with it assuming the third act plucks our heartstrings.
That means for every hard-R laugh you get a special bro bonding moment. “Good Boys” plays that up so aggressively it’s like an R-rated Back to School special. Your average Apatow comedy, or even the best “American Pie” films, juggle those disparate themes with more nuance than what’s seen here.
To their credit, the youngsters retain their innocence while selling the seedier gags. Just imagine the off-screen conversations some of the yuks inspire, though. The Blu-ray extras might be more entertaining that the film itself. Or just plain scary for the parents watching.
The film’s screenplay serves up a number of razor sharp lines along with sight gags you’ll hate yourself for laughing at. Suffice to say the hair gel scene from “There’s Something About Mary” has nothing on these “Boys.”
If one of the lad’s parents weren’t so sexually adventurous, though, the film wouldn’t meet half its laugh quotient.
FAST FACT: Jacob Tremblay rocked Darth Vader socks at the 2016 Oscars ceremony. He didn’t land a nomination for his celebrated film “Room,” but his co-star Brie Larson came away with a golden statuette for her work in the film.
The worst scene? Our young heroes navigate an insanely busy highway. If you’re not wincing there’s something wrong with you. The sequence doesn’t matter, though. It’s just another shock tactic, albeit one that should have been left behind.
Our three young heroes are an affable bunch through all their misadventures. Lucas is the unassailable moral compass, a boy so impossibly pure he’s our G-rated Everyboy.
It seems like the trio comes from loving homes, even though the parents get little screen time. When Lucas learns his parents are splitting up there’s a warmth to how they break the news. It’s played for nervous laughs, but it’s clear he’s got sturdy roots.
So why do he and his pals curse like “Deadwood” extras? It’s an inconsistency the screenplay refuses to answer. To be fair, the film’s one-joke gimmick won’t allow it.
What happens on set stays on set. #GoodBoysMovie hits theaters August 16. pic.twitter.com/LF6fMX4Dfg
— Good Boys (@GoodBoysMovie) August 12, 2019
This cultural moment is an odd one, indeed. “Good Boys” is a sex-obsessed teen comedy starring kids who can’t stop respecting women. The boys even ask a female dummy for permission before they smooch her. These lads also rail, over and again, about the dangers associated with drug use.
There’s little problematic in the storyline, either, assuming the sight of pre-tweens twerking doesn’t count.
The final scene trots out one more sight gag, and to be blunt it brings a hearty laugh. Directors Gene Stupnitsky lets it last one beat too long, though. The innocence of the moment is gone.
HiT or Miss: The notion of pre-teens engaging in gross sexual shtick may chase some away from “Good Boys.” Those willing to stick around will get some hearty laughs as a reward.