But there’s bound to be a less cool kid at the party, and although Good Boys proves to be a laugh-a-minute attendee, this golden time for teen stories could be quick to chuck it out.
Produced by Superbad writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Good Boys tackles the youngest kids of the lot – in fact, they’re not even teenagers yet. As Max, the sweet 12-year-old hero, says: they're ‘tweens’. Is this, then, a 15-rated 'tween comedy'? Well, all the trademarks of a teen comedy remain – just with a lot more naivety.
12-year-old Jacob Tremblay (Room) plays Max
Max – played to comedic and confused perfection by Room actor Jacob Tremblay – is the coolest in his tight group of friends ('the Beanbag Boys'), which includes the camp law-abider Lucas (Keith L Williams) and the spikey-haired musical talent Thor (Brady Noon).
They navigate the tween world: they're peer-pressured to sip (not drink) a beer, search ‘PORN’ on Google out of curiosity, and hear about life-changing ‘kissing parties’. Max is invited to one such event, and he’ll finally have a chance to kiss the girl of his dreams.
To prepare for the kissing party, having never kissed anyone, Max and co. spiral into some gross and thrilling adventures across their little town. One involves a sex doll that the kids mistake for a CPR dummy, leading to a rancid moment that’s thankfully somehow funny. As with anything involving Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours 2 comes immediately to mind) the gross-out moments form an integral part of the comedy – sometimes working, sometimes falling flat in a slop of sick.
Max (Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon), and Lucas (Keith L Williams) spiral into some gross and thrilling adventures
But there are plenty of solid jokes beyond the lewd ones, chiefly from the loveable innocence of these tweens. They pick up their parents’ dildos and think they’re weapons, pretend to understand ethical concepts (‘I’m not a feminist – I love women!’), and nervously squeal when they’re in a frat house (amusingly shot like a drug den) .
The screenplay by The Office (US) writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky loses its comedic momentum with a long and convolued plot-line chasing a drone and avoiding two teen girls planning their own wild weekend. Enough jokes fire to ease an entertaining watch, but it’s like Eisenberg and Stupitsky struggled to think of more specific things the modern youth enjoy – made worse when it leads to nowhere important.
The final act offers some unexpectedly poignant surprises, reminding audiences how important and temporary those first friendships can be. The characters’ affection for each other and the chemistry between those hilarious child actors screams in those brief sad moments. It’s only a shame that drones and sex dolls are often given greater priority.
|What||Good Boys review|
16 Aug 19 – 16 Aug 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|