There’s been a lot of emphasis placed on the Good Boys promotional material surrounding the fact that the film is seemingly resting on the gimmick that much of its humour will be derived from pre-pubescent children swearing incessantly and involving themselves considerably among sex and drugs.
And whilst the titular Boys – Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) – do indeed dabble with the aforementioned vices, the “joke” itself diminishes over the course of the film’s 90 minute running time, but not because we tire of its humour but more so because we see these youngens mature right in front of us. Yep, these Boys have heart. Who’d a thunk it?
As fitting replacements for the hormone-driven teenage boys that are usually at the centre of these types of films (it’s difficult to not compare this to a similarly themed product like Superbad), Max, Thor and Lucas’s age-appropriate dilemma centres around a “kissing party”. You’ve got to crawl before you can walk, and given that the mighty trio – who dub themselves “The Beanbag Boys” – have no real experience on locking lips with the opposite sex, it’s understandable that they feel the pressure of having to “perform”; and watching pornography doesn’t assist them in any matter as they realise that no one kisses in the type of films, at least not on their mouths.
Max is initially the one who scores the invite to the party, managing to convince the effortlessly cool host Soren (Izaac Wang) that his besties are worthy of partaking in the festivities in the process, but the journey to the event itself proves more taxing than they could anticipate as a series of convoluted misunderstandings leads them on a wild chase around their home town that includes buying MDMA, evading a disinterested police officer (Sam Richardson), and selling an anatomical CPR doll to a questionable buyer (Stephen Merchant). There’s also the matter of retrieving Max’s father’s prized drone which has fallen into the clutches of his “nymphomaniac” neighbour (a likeable Molly Gordon), she merely holding onto the device in a bid to teach the boys a valuable lesson in respect.
Much like the recent Booksmart, which flipped the tropes of the genre by steering away from the misogynistic and homophobic mentality that oft laced these types of films and embraced inclusiveness instead, Good Boys succeeds due to the fact that it’s so sincere. The situations are outlandish, but Tremblay, Noon, and Williams sell their friendship, it appears genuine and you want nothing more than for them to cherish their bond; Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky’s script surprisingly deepens over time, resulting in a film that’s perhaps more bittersweet than what may be expected.
As smutty as it is smart, Good Boys indeed succeeds as something of a low-brow comedy but, perhaps most surprising, is that its inherent sweetness as a relatable coming-of-age story is its greatest strength.