Best friends Max (played by Jacob Tremblay of Room), Thor (played by Brady Noon of “Boardwalk Empire”), and Lucas (played by TV veteran Keith L. Williams) have been friends since the beginning of their lives and are struggling to survive the sixth grade. In addition to fending off bullies and dealing with their confusing parents, the trio embarks on a bizarre quest that involves a child-proof bottle full of illegal drugs, a sex doll, a closet of erotic toys, online porn, and a drone.
Who is this movie for? Imagine a middle of the road, ‘90s kiddie comedy, like the forgotten Max Keeble’s Big Move or Heavyweights, and, instead of a young cast only learning valuable life lessons, they also spout non-stop profanity and occasionally handle sex toys by accident. That’s basically the entire running time of this soon-to-be-forgotten, final wheeze of a summer comedy.
If Andrew Dice Clay wrote a Disney movie, it’d be Good Boys. I’m not being complimentary. There’s a tonal problem the movie never fixes, as this feels like a Disney Channel sitcom, with dirty parts forced into a plot that was already been worn out on “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”
Good Boys is weak and lazy from the get-go, with dangling plot lines, jarring edits, and plot turns that no one seemed fully committed to. A promised musical number comes and goes so fast, it felt like the filmmakers were embarrassed by it.
Perhaps the most obvious and annoyed piece of criticism I could toss at this dud: Has anyone involved with this production ever heard of “South Park?” Hearing a child say the F-word is an old joke. So is the tired spectacle of having children act like adults, and not in an intriguing, finding their own personality or figuring out their way in the world manner – I mean acting like “grown-ups” in the most blatant, forced manner possible, like they grew up watching reality TV and decided to mimic the Kardashians.
This was clearly written by adults who don’t understand what makes modern kids funny, scary, and complex. Aside from the raunchiness, everything about this is formula. The whole thing would have been better had it been set in high school, as the naiveté of inexperienced teens would have been even funnier – oh, wait, Superbad already did that. Grown-ups in attendance will likely feel embarrassed to endure a movie that tries even harder than Sausage Party to shock. Kids who inevitably sneak in or see this minus a guardian will quickly see how mean spirited and yucky this is.
Noon and Oscar-nominee Tremblay give mannered, sitcom-y turns, but Williams is very good here, the only one to rise above the material and actually aim to bring something real to his character. Otherwise, I never believed in these kids or anything else that happens in this movie. Another diamond in the rough is Sam Richardson, hilarious in a way-too-brief role as a fed-up cop who encounters the kids in a convenience store. This sequence, like every other here, hits its punch lines and quickly moves on to another scenario; the editing seems less concerned with pacing and more a desire to cater to a restless audience.
The teenagers who enter the second act are actually more intriguing than the kids and they’re truly vile as well; bizarrely, the movie forgets about them by the wrap-up. There’s also a moment where one of the kids experiences heartbreak, in a music montage that’s played for laughs; the contempt the screenwriters have for their characters and the audience is made loud and clear.
Then there’s the sequence where the kids run into a highway, which is played for laughs; I know it’s only a movie but the scene is as rotten as it is irresponsible.
Director and co-screenwriter Gene Stupnitsky, along with co-writer and producer Lee Eisenberg, helmed some of my favorite episodes of “The Office” (the US version). However, they’re also the authors of Bad Teacher and Year One. Add Good Boys to that list and you have a triple feature from hell.
Rated R/89 Min.
Image courtesy IMDB