MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Comedy/ Stars: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Will Forte, Molly Gordon, Lil Rel Howery, Retta, Midori Francis, Josh Caras, Michaela Watkins, Sam Richardson/ Runtime: 90 minutes
I feel it is only appropriate to start this review off by saying that while we as lovers of cinema are existing in a time and place where superhero films, horror, for the most part, and musicals, as long as they are not named Cats, are actually dominating at the global box office and making studios a healthy profit, there is a genre that surprisingly seems to have stagnated. This genre is known as the R-rated comedy, and it’s surprising because it was merely only a decade ago that a lot of cinema goers were turning out in droves to see such gems as The Hangover and Superbad yet in the time since the world of cinema has completely evolved. Indeed this is because, with slim exceptions, the R-Rated Comedy just plain and simply has been truly incapable of crossing the 100 million dollar threshold here in the States anymore.
Yet while it isn’t exactly clear to me why there has been a lull in this particular genre of film, there is one thing that is clear to me. That of course would be the fact that while everyone has chosen to focus more on the key elements including poor quality and just an overall sense of the audience not being as interested as they used to be, this has encouraged certain titles to emerge from the muck and actually not do too bad with both critics and general movie goers. Indeed these films might not made the level of money that something like Avengers: Endgame made, but we should nevertheless be absolutely grateful for movies such as The Night Before and films like it. Suffice it to say, and upon seeing it, I can safely say that we can now also add the movie Good Boys to that list as well. Indeed despite the fact that this film manages to posses a plot that is definitely one that has been done before to some degree, I feel that what truly makes this one more distinct and unique is that it’s not about the cliche of high schoolers finding themselves facing the impending start of their adult lives both personally and professionally. Rather, this is a film which chooses to make its focus on this is about the highs and lows that come with that distinct time period known as adolescence. Indeed while there are some themes and some character paths that may seem like you’ve seen them before, I promise that they’ve all been redesigned with a new perspective that makes for a winning good time to be had.
The plot is as follows: Good Boys introduces us to a trio of 12-year old boys that have been pals for a long time named Max, Thor, and Lucas, but who are better known as The Bean Bag Boys. Yet, as in a lot of this particular kind of movie, we quickly see that our dynamic trio really are starting to grow up and become vastly different teens; a difference which is most certainly highlighted when Max finds himself invited to a house party courtesy of the most popular kid at the boys’ school with the extra caveat being that it’s a make-out party. Yet despite the fact that all 3 boys all have their own way of doing things, one thing that they all still have in common is that they all possess a distinct and quite palpable sense of innocence. An innocence that finds itself coming directly into conflict when staring at an activity that is a wee bit more mature than they are used to. Put another way: our 3 heroes are all young boys who have never had that proverbial first kiss with a girl yet, and being invited to this party presents itself with the scary possibility that they will look like losers in front of those who they seek approval from the most.
Thankfully for every problem there is always a solution to be found. For this particular conflict therefore, the best resolution that our young heroes come up with is to observe those who have experience in this particular arena of expertise. Thankfully Max has them covered in that area as well due to having access both to a drone that his father owns as well as a neighbor named Hannah who literally has no problem making out with her boyfriend in front of the whole neighborhood. However when things go awry courtesy of the drone crashing and then Hannah subsequently taking the device hostage, this trio find themselves embarking on a dual-tiered mission: not only in getting ready for what is turning out to be the biggest party of their lives to date, but also in doing everything they can in their collective power to get the drone back before Max’s dad comes back home.
Now perhaps one of this film’s more significant concerns in regards to what exactly this film is about is the fact that this is a plot which could, if done wrong, keep coming back to the same beat in a repetitive cycle. A beat that takes the form of the cliche involving our intrepid young heroes finding themselves continually becoming embroiled in shenanigans that they haven’t got the slightest comprehension and/or understanding of. Yet while there has been quite a few films in the comedy genre which choose to thrive within this particular realm, the filmmakers wisely choose to do more than just that and actually choose to explore just what it means to be a 12-year old with a significant degree of both empathy and heart as well.
To that end the film chooses to start with little items like the trio seeing a 4 mile odyssey to the mall in town as impossible to pull off or possessing the belief that if an individual drinks more than 3 chugs of a beer you are automatically a deep swinging alcoholic. Yet even with those things in the books, this film also chooses to take a closer look at even more complex simple topics such as the real reasons why your friends are who they are at that particular period of time. Indeed as someone actually tells our main characters at one point in the film, friends when you are a kid are decided more on where you are located and your parents rather than by any specific things that you have in common. Thus while this movie does a wonderful job at certainly giving an audience a lot to laugh about, this is also a film that understands that it is also about its lead actors growing up and in an unusually honest yet not bad way this film actually showcases a degree of well-earned pathos. Emotional as it may tend to become though, this is still a film which is run by the genre that is comedy. Suffice it to say then that the film is also filled with quite a few moments that are instantly memorable. Indeed some of these moments are bigger in nature like and the movie is littered with fantastic and memorable sequences. Sometimes these moments choose to go big such as when our intrepid trio find themselves in desperate need to really get across a heavily congested freeway, and other times the film brilliantly also makes the exchange for gags that are more simple in nature such as when our trio accidentally find themselves crossing paths with an off-the-clock police officer. Indeed by making the incredibly wise choice to not really sway too far off of the beaten path known as reality, the movie gets the added benefit of constantly being way more funny as a result.
Now a significant ingredient towards what exactly makes this film the enjoyable outing that it proves to be is just how immensely impressive the three lead actors are with their performances especially when you realize that are quite a few film actors that are adults who would stumble if not fall while trying to make a studio comedy such as this work even remotely. Yet not only are the trio of main young performers at the heart of this film absolutely fantastic in their roles, but they also exude a terrific sense of camaraderie and chemistry in their scenes together. This of course starts with Jacob Tremblay and yet despite being the one with the biggest filmography amongst the trio, I feel that not only does his role 100% completely live up to his talent as an actor, but it also serves as a terrific example of this blossoming young talent’s range as an actor. Also despite the fact that they are significantly lesser known in the entertainment industry, I also feel that Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams are also given just as much of a chance to really bring their A-Game to audiences. Suffice it to say they both wisely choose to take the opportunity being presented to them, and proceed to knock it out of the park as the former brings both a delightfully grumpy attitude as well as an absolutely stunning singing voice and the other brings an absolutely phenomenal sense of comedic timing as well as delivery for some truly hilarious comedic gems.
All in all it is a safe bet to say that despite the fact that the usual movie-loving audience will here lately find themselves seriously torn when it comes the question of just what to watch, I would politely like to submit this film for consideration. Indeed when one makes the choice to watch a film like Good Boys you are in essence giving yourself the glorious opportunity to laugh consistently for 90 minutes while also being given some things to actually ponder all being wrapped up in a cinematic package that is a true joy from start to finish. Indeed we may sadly be living in a period of time where truly wonderful R-rated comedy is scarce and a true rarity, but I promise you that this cinematic outing is definitely worth it. On a scale of 1-5 I give Good Boys a solid 4 out of 5.