Based on its trailer, you might expect Good Boys to be an embarrassment of sex jokes pushed upon kids too inexperienced to make them funny. While there is the occasional misfire, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky’s script actually uses its age-inappropriate humour to great effect, and even smuggles in some heartbreaking thoughts on friendship, loyalty and growing up.
The core of Good Boys’ appeal is putting kids in adult situations, but the writers are smart enough to always keep them as the naïve innocents, desperately negotiating a grown-up world. After all, the plot revolves around them battling wits with a teenage neighbour to try and stop her taking drugs. Brady Noon, Jacob Tremblay, and Keith L. Williams, in particular, are hilariously sincere and moral, whilst still remaining normal enough to skip school and pursue burgeoning romances.
It’s rare to find three kids good enough to lead a film with their all-round performances rather than mere comedy shock potential, but Noon, Williams and Tremblay do just that, nailing that strange in-between age of approaching adolescence where every kid has to reconsider the world around them.
At a few points, it’s hard to tell who this film is for. It’s a 15-rated film about 11-year-olds, who as the trailer points out, are too young to watch the shit they say in the film. And in the more cringe-worthy scenes depicting the sixth-grade social hierarchy the idea of what’s cool for tweens feels cut adrift.
Good Boys is 70 minutes of sweet, funny comedy finished off by a few brutal, bittersweet scenes looking ahead. People grow older and they grow apart but that doesn’t make the friendships of childhood worth any less. As the great coming-of-age film Stand By Me concluded: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I did when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
CAST: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Will Forte, Retta, Lil Rel Howery, Sam Richardson, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis
DIRECTOR: Gene Stupnitsky
WRITERS: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
SYNOPSIS: Three sixth grade boys ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls, and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party.