There is something wonderful about kids screaming expletives. The childish innocence in the delivery of not-so-innocent words is funny. Abundant with that childish fun is Gene Stupnitsky’s directorial debut black comedy, “Good Boys.” In the scope of a suburban childhood, the film has the traces of producer Seth Rogen’s vulgar style, this time through the mouths of children.
When sixth-grade best friends Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) get invited to the popular kids’ kissing party, the bunch scramble to get prepared. Using Max’s dad’s drone to spy on their next-door neighbor, the self-dubbed “bean-bag boys” ignite a feud with delinquent highschoolers Hannah and Lily, resulting in the destruction of their drone. While dealing with their own problems, the three band together to replace the drone leading them to highway-crossing, drug-smuggling antics.
Beyond a green-band trailer that pops-up on youtube, this film should not be visible to the younger audiences. Though at first glance the film looks like a campy kids’ movie, the big “R” should indicate its true nature. It is not a kid’s movie at all but rather a colorfully foul imagining of a normal suburban childhood. The black comedy of the kids’ naive actions and crumbling innocence is a delightful opposition to the scarily accurate depiction of young kids’ potty mouths.
While it is not a kids movie made for kids, it is for parents and future parents alike. For experienced parents, the film is somewhat of a relief. Assuming their kids have not driven a drone through the house tearing up furniture, this movie is just a wacky representation of “what could’ve gone wrong.” For those parents-to-be, the film is a vivid guide on basic and bizarre do’s and don’ts. Some are simple like don’t leave your expensive drone within arm’s distance, and some are more advanced like triple-lock-up your vast collection of sex toys.
Aside from the comedy of the taboo subjects and intense language, there are many touching and wholesome moments created by the relatable individual stories of the three bean-bag boys. Thor, throughout the film, undergoes the common woes of peer pressure. His insecurities allow his classmates’ mal-intended gaze to shoo him away from his passion and strive to prove himself by taking a whopping four sips of beer. His real story begins after the ending of this coming-of-age story, when he breaks away from the pressure and pursues his love for singing.
Just like Thor’s eventual breakthrough, Lucas and Max find their clarity as they mature naturally. Even though the main characters parade their vulgar language throughout the film and try desperately to grow up quickly, it is apparent to both the audience and themselves that they need to experience more of their childhood. It is evident that they do not truly understand the majority of what they are saying, but their actions speak volumes. Without much hesitation, the three used a drone to spy on Max’s neighbor and went through multiple ludicrous missions to cover it all up. While it is quite a precarious situation they found themselves in, a more mature bunch could have found a more sensible and less painful solution.
The characters’ shortcomings do not stop them from at least trying. At every turn, the characters are afforded opportunities to stop and cave, but their persistence leads them into deeper trouble. The need for maturity and adulthood inversely reveals why they are not mentally and emotionally there yet. The film brings the audience along and allows us to laugh at the childish thought processes, something we should be doing when retrospecting our past selves.
While crossing highways and buying drugs from frat-houses may be far-fetched tasks for sixth-graders, the film finds its reality in the characters as they grow throughout the film and definitively states: kids will be kids. While kids do some stupid things, it is best we laugh and enjoy the fictional mess we will not have to clean up in the end.
Photo Credit: Poster for “Good Boys” at Regal Majestic & IMAX in Silver Spring, MD. Photo by Shesh Batni.