With credits such as Knocked Up, Bad Neighbours, Preacher and The Boys under his belt, it’s clear that Seth Rogen the producer sure knows a winning formula when he sees one. With Good Boys, Rogen and his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg produce a film that’s cut from the same cloth as one of their first successes, 2007’s Superbad. They show there’s still plenty of juice left in the tank of the ‘best friends try to get from A to B with calamities meeting them on the way’ recipe that made that Jonah Hill and Michael Cera launching pad a hit.
The formula gets a bit of a tweak here by focusing on younger protagonists Max, Lucas and Thor, three best friends who have just begun 6th grade and are entering puberty with a whole lot of confusion. After losing the expensive drone belonging to Max’s father (Will Forte), the three tweens set about riding their bikes across town to buy a new one before he gets home. Of course their quest becomes a series of misadventures involving pornography, sex toys and party drugs. With absolutely no comprehension of the adult world they find themselves in, the three mates stick together and find themselves learning valuable lessons.
Simply put, this movie is wonderful! It is at all times puerile, vulgar and lowbrow, and yet it is also overwhelmingly wholesome. Despite our three 12-year-old kids mouthing off a barrage of profanity and experiencing an endless gauntlet of inappropriate situations, the film never loses sight of their innocence. They know not what they say, nor what they’re doing, and throughout their entire ordeal they remain “Good Boys”. Writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (Bad Teacher, Year One) have tapped into their own recollections of adolescence to conjure a story that turns this tried-and-true formula into an endearing and hilarious coming-of-age adventure.
Those easily offended need not bother with this fantastic comedy, as it pushes envelopes and exploits taboos. If hearing kids swearing isn’t your thing, then kids buying drugs and using anal beads as nunchucks won’t sway you either. But those who enjoy edgy comedy will walk away from Good Boys having been treated to a heartfelt story of mateship and growing up. As aforementioned, this is – ironically – a very wholesome movie indeed.
Jacob Tremblay (Wonder, Room) leads the pack with total conviction and sets a high standard of which his co-stars Keith L Williams (The Last Man on Earth) and Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire) match with ease. These kids are absolute gems, giving mature and genuine performances far beyond their years. Williams is the obvious standout as the ultimate good boy whose only concern is doing the right thing. Whether or not these three young leads fully understand the nature of what they’re saying, or even comprehend the weight of the underlining drama, is beyond me, however they leap off the screen with sincerity and earnestness.
Co-writer Stupnitsky makes his feature directorial debut, having previously helmed episodes of The Office (US), and he proves his worth nicely. Good Boys leaves a big impression and sets a very high standard for a first-time director, and with Rogen and Goldberg helping to bring it together, there was little doubt that the formula would fail him.
The film is riotous and seeing it with a full audience is highly recommended. With the right viewing environment the comedy pops and hits all the right beats, never slowing down to catch its breath. In fact, with one hilarious gag after another the comedy might also lead to fatigue… but really, who gets sick of laughing?
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★★☆
‘Good Boys’ opens in Australian cinemas on September 19 and opened in the US on August 16.