You’re on the cusp of adulthood, just in between innocence and cynicism, and all you want to do is prove to everyone how big you actually are. That’s the heart of “Good Boys,” a Seth Rogen-produced comedy about 3 best friends trying to get to a cool kid’s kissing party. Rogen’s involvement already means it’s going to be raunchy, vulgar, and probably offer a lot of physical comedy. This is mostly true. There is vulgarity, crude humor, and a 12-year-old boy being thrown into the side of a van. It’s a riot and a half. But luckily, they turned down the raunchiness of the film since it does mostly involve tweens. And that was really the best decision. The film has some time to focus on its characters and give us a reason to fall in love with them (if we don’t already cause they’re just so friggin’ cute.)
Wide-eyed, innocent Max (Jacob Tremblay) is sweet, kind-hearted and curious. Golden-voiced Thor (Brady Noon) is loud, aggressive, and the brashest of the bunch. Lucas (Keith L. Williams) is honest to a fault, nerdy, and is the character going through the most change as we discover his parents (played by Lil Rel Howery and Retta) are going through a divorce. The 3 make up “The Bean Bag Boys” – because they’re boys and they all have bean bags. It shows how little it takes to make a friendship last when you’re that young. It’s quite revealing in its simplicity as we see how difficult it is to gain friends once you’re past a certain age.
The plot of the story is simple. The boys have been invited to a kissing party, but they don’t know how to kiss. In their quest to learn, the boys borrow Max’s dad’s work drone to spy on their female neighbors to see how kissing is done (since watching porn clearly didn’t work). Once the girls capture the drone and refuse to give it back, the boys steal the girl’s drugs in retaliation. This sets off a chain of events that lead to some hysterical moments throughout the film.
There’s a lot to laugh at in this film, mainly due to casting as they made sure to get as many established comedians as they could into this film, who can deliver not just the lines, but the emotions and gestures that make their scenes stand out. But the stars are clearly our three tweens, whose naivete and childlike understanding of the world makes their humor real and gives a gut-punch to all of their scenes. It’s the scenes of heart that don’t land as well. It’s a comedy, through and through, anything else was just put there to give some respite from laughing so hard.
The approach to the film is what makes it land so well. Everyone seems to be ahead of the boys in what’s going on, but their innocence is actually the thing you want most to be preserved. Especially the notion that they know well enough that drugs are bad and you can’t kiss anyone without their consent. These are noble things to get behind and the kind of message that says it’s okay if boys will be boys, so long as they’re good boys.