The raunchy “teen” comedy has always been a favorite of mine, mostly because while I’m 37 years old (I’M 37?!?!?!?!?), I’m basically still 12. I still get a laugh out of the occasional dick and fart joke (provided it’s worded and timed well), and someone cussing inappropriately will always get a chuckle out of me. As such, I was looking forward to the latest spin on the trope, Good Boys, applying many of those sex romp beats to prepubescent “tweens,” and the movie did not disappoint.
Setting itself as something of an American Pie for 6th graders, Good Boys deftly lands joke after joke due to the utterly committed performances of its three leads: Jacob Tremblay (the breakout child star of Room and Wonder) as Max, Keith L. Williams as Lucas, and Brady Noon as Thor. The three play off each other so well that while the film may have been intended to have a vibe similar to Porky’s, more often than not it felt like a live-action, 90-minute episode of South Park, with Max embodying the best and worst qualities of Stan and Kyle, Thor taking more after Cartman and Kenny, and gentle giant (for 11-year-olds) Lucas acting essentially as the Butters of the group.
The three have been friends their entire lives, dubbing their mini clique “Beanbag Boys,” cause they’re boys who became friends sitting on beanbags, you see. They also each have their own age-appropriate existential crisis. Max has a crush on a girl named Brixlee (Tremblay’s Wonder co-star Millie Davis), and has an opportunity to kiss her at their first “mature” party. Lucas, ever one to follow the rules and expect the best from everybody, is dealing with the fallout of his parents’ (Lil Rel Howery and Retta) impending divorce. Thor, bullied with the nickname “Sippy Cup” because he refused to give in to peer pressure and swig a beer, has had his confidence shaken, and decides to give up his passion of singing, even though he’s a shoe-in for the lead in the school musical, a wholly ill-advised adaptation of Rock of Ages.
A series of hijinks and madcap antics ensues when the boys decide to get some “practice” kissing before the party, first by trying it out on a “CPR” doll that’s actually a “Real Doll” sex toy, then by taking Max’s father’s (Will Forte) prized drone out for a spin to spy on neighbor Hannah (Molly Gordon from Booksmart) and her friend Lilly (Midori Francis). The teen girls capture the drone and playfully threaten the boys, so they steal Hannah’s purse, which among other things contains a pill bottle with hits of ecstasy inside. The girls offer a trade for the drone, but the boys are hesitant, especially Lucas, who doesn’t want to give the girls drugs and thus “ruin their lives.” After the deal goes awry and the drone is destroyed, the boys must find a way to replace it before Max’s dad comes home from a business trip, the final moments of which are itself an homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The only drone within an achievable distance is at the Northpoint Mall, leading the boys on a small-scale adventure to not only get the money needed to buy the machine, but also to physically get there without their parents finding out or the girls catching them. This results in several side-splitting diversionary set-pieces including Stephen Merchant buying the sex doll while trying to convince the boys he’s not a pedophile, Lucas having the most devastating attack of conscience when encountering a policeman (Sam Richardson) in a convenience store, and a paintball shootout in a frat house, all to avoid the wrath of two girls who really, Really, REALLY want to take Molly before a rap concert. If that’s not determination, I don’t know what is.
What really makes the film work – apart from the performances of the entire cast – is two-fold. One is that there is genuine sentiment in the boys’ relationships with one another, and the realization that oftentimes childhood friendships are borne of geographical convenience and often grow apart. The second is that the actions taken by all (save maybe the girls and their commitment to getting high) are completely in character for these specific types of people. As my girlfriend put it, many of the jokes and scenes are silly and stupid (they are, but also hilarious), but you can’t hate on it because this is exactly how naïve kids would behave when faced with these absurd situations.
You can even forgive odd narrative jumps like an opening scene where Max programs a fantasy game character for masturbatory purposes (his dad is so proud!) but later we learn has never actually seen pornography, nor does it occur to any of the boys to simply look up an instructional video on YouTube about kissing rather than going to all this trouble of spying on the neighbors with a drone. It is completely natural for tween boys, just getting their first blast of hormones, to get so caught up in their own heads as to not conceive of the simplest solution to their problems. It’s happened to all of us, though obviously not to this scale.
This movie is a delightful new spin on an old standard, and because of the note-perfect moments of humanity and organic behavior of the core three to balance out all the raunch, this very likely goes down as the funniest movie of the year. If you’re at all a fan of adult humor, especially when it’s done by seemingly precocious but foul-mouthed kids, you’ll enjoy this movie immensely.
Join the conversation in the comments below! What film should I review next? What’s your favorite raunchy comedy? Have you ever tried to smuggle a beer bottle in your pants and pass it off as having a big dick? Let me know (especially if you’re a woman and tried that)!