Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: "Good Boys" is a mini-Superbad

Good Boys Review
When I reflect upon the movies of the 2000's, I remember that it was a rich year for comedy. It was the height of Judd Apatow, the emergence of Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell and Danny McBride. I loved, and continue to love movies like "Anchorman," "Superbad," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Knocked Up," "The Hangover," "The 40 Year Old Virigin," "Tropic Thunder," "The Pineapple Express," "Talladega Nights," "Step Brothers," "Role Models" and "Wet Hot American Summer." That's not including British comedies and the offbeat stuff like Wes Anderson's run or something like "Napoleon Dynamite. That's also not including "The Room," which apparently wasn't a comedy in the first place but became one by default.

The 2010's didn't really have that same surge of raunchy, rowdy, R-rated comedy that the 2000's did. Sure, we get a "Get Him To The Greek" or a "Sausage Party" every once in a good while, but we are not getting the output we got last decade. It seems lots of the big guns of comedy moved to the small screen, and I definitely laughed way more in the comfort of my home instead at the movie theater this decade. I was really starting to think that those off-the-way R-rated comedies were put on hold for the decade.

Then something like "Good Boys" comes out, and shows me just what I needed.

Seth Rogen was behind this one and you could easily write off "Good Boys" as a mini-Superbad, and by and large, you'd kind of be right. Its about three friends who do some really bad things in order to get to a party they feel they NEED to get to. Sounds exactly like "Superbad" right? We aren't dealing with high school kids this time though, we are dealing with 6th graders. The world of grade school is not the same world as high school. But its still an environment ripe for big laughs. Seth Rogen scores everyone.

We meet Max (Jacob Trembley), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams). These boys have been best friends for a really long time and now they are about to face middle school together. They are going through budding puberty, discovering they like girls, and hoping to have a first kiss soon. Thor is a kid with a great singing voice, but he doesn't want anyone to know about it. He is often made fun of because he chickened out on drinking beer. Lucas is a good-hearted, boy scout type being rocked by his parents' impending divorce. Max didn't chicken out on drinking beer with the other boys though and he gets invited to Soren's house (Izac Wang), the most popular boy in school. Max's crush Brixlee (Millie Davis) is going to be there, and Max wants to make her his.

Max is able to convince Soren to let him bring Thor and Lucas to the party. The boys spend their afternoon after school trying to find kissing videos, which they accidentally only find porn. Max decides to use his dad's drone to spy on his older next door neighbor, a high school girl named Hannah (Molly Gordon) only to get the drone stolen. Thor steals Hannah's drugs she got for a concert she's attending. Knowing he'll get in trouble if he loses his fathers drone and really needing to go to Soren's party, Max can't get grounded. So he convinces Thor and Lucas to skip school with him so they can obtain a new drone and still get to the party that night.

That's the movie. Instead of  three high school students trying to get alcohol for an entire party so they can get laid. Three middle school friends are trying to get a drone so they can get to a party for their first kiss. Again, if you merely write-off "Good Boys" simply because it follows a familiar template, you are missing out. There is a sincerity and a sweetness to the comedy, because the boys are so young. Sure, these 12-year-olds know every bad word in the book. But the comedy boils down to much more than just "LOOK, THAT LITTLE BOY IS SAYING FUCK!" Consider a scene where the boys are selling a rare playing card for a popular Magic The Gathering style game. They are home alone and feel the need to find weapons in case the buyer is a kidnapper or a pedophile. Their "weapons" of choice are a bunch of sex toys belonging to Thor's parents. They don't know that though, they are merely 12-year-olds.

The movie is also engaging because the three boys are such good actors. We've been seeing Tremblay in many things now, and I have a feeling he's going to be one of the best actors of his generation. Noon and Williams are both exceptional young actors as well. This trio bounces off of each other pretty well. They play it believable. Sure, these are kids that know lots of curse words. But you know what? So did I, and I don't mind admitting that. These kids are playing movie characters, they are playing kids. Kids at twelve years of age. When they all have a big fight in the middle of the movie ,they all go their separate ways crying. They feel their age, not something that isn't real.

This isn't a movie that is trying to be cool. This isn't a movie that tries to make these characters look anything more than young teenagers. This is why the movie works. It feels real. This cast gave it their all, and the writing remains bold. "Good Boys" may look similar given the material, but in the hands of this cast and these situations, its something much different.


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