There’s a fine art to making an approachable, raunchy comedy, especially if your subjects are 12-year-olds. “Superbad” was one thing — those were high schoolers. In “Good Boys,” we’re dealing with “tweens,” kids going through their most awkward stages of life. It’s a hoot.
Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) are the Bean Bag Boys — because they like to sit on bean bags when they hang out. The three of them aren’t popular, but they aren’t outcasts either. They exist somewhere in the mushy middle of the school populace. They’re desperately trying to climb the social ladder, though, trying everything to be accepted by the most popular kid in school, Soren (Izaac Wang).
Like “Superbad,” this trio of potty-mouthed youngins find themselves in hilarious predicaments as they attempt to navigate adolescence. Many of the comedic set pieces are chuckle-worthy, but a few of them are downright hilarious. There’s a sequence inside a college frat house that left me in tears.
The approach here is that kids are kids and they’re simply trying to make their way in the world by emulating the people around them. Many times, this leads to laughable misunderstandings, but sometimes the world provides a false sense of certainty that is tough to accept.
While Max, Lucas and Thor are best friends, they also find themselves moving in different directions. Max has eyes for Brixlee (Millie Davis), while Lucas and Thor don’t really care for trying to find a girlfriend at this moment in time. Thor wants everyone to think he’s cool, but is it worth giving up his first love (singing)? And Lucas is still into the geeky stuff that Max and Thor seemed to have grown out of.
We all had that group of friends in elementary school who we thought would be our pals for life. But what “Good Boys” does such a great job of capturing is how childhood — especially the tween years — is fleeting and fraught with middle school drama. Everything at that age is amplified. Anything that happens is important. Popularity is king and attaining it feels impossible. It’s a time of life where kids are becoming independent, but still require parental care. There’s a struggle there that can only be explained by experiencing it ourselves.
We know what it’s like to grow up and change friends, but I found myself not wanting Max, Lucas and Thor to find that out. “Good Boys” knows what those awkward years are like and provides a sweet and sour comedy filled with laughs.
Perhaps the best part of the movie is the innocence in the delivery of lines. These kids are adorable and when they swear it somehow makes them even cuter. Not because swearing is inherently cute, but because we know they’re doing simply because they’re emulating other people. It’s their pure naivety that makes this movie such a joy to watch.