There is a recent trend starting to go around Hollywood where we are seeing nostalgia really take over in the movies that are being made. There are much more obvious examples like Disney’s recent slate of live-action remakes, pretty much every studio’s decision to make sequels to beloved franchises, the list goes on. But there has also been a different approach to nostalgia that is often ignored from this conversation and that is film and television the invoke feelings from your past and often put a twist on it. This can be seen on a show like Big Mouth or a movie like Sausage Party that takes feelings and filmmaking we remember as children and then twist it for adult enjoyment.
This is why I do not default on saying that nostalgia is bad for film. I think it can be quite useful when used correctly. Now, this is all pretty deep considering the movie being written about is an R-rated comedy about middle school boys but I think it important to talk about considering what the strengths of Good Boys are.
The story of Good Boys is an innocent one. Three best friends have the opportunity to go to a kissing party and need to learn how to kiss. From here, adventure and lifelong memories begin. Obviously the twist is this is a completely uncensored look at this adventure and despite being about kids, is far from being for kids.
To answer the obvious first question, is this movie funny? For me, it was downright hilarious. The brand of humor is established pretty quickly in the film. There is very little influence from adults in this movie, meaning the entire story is being told from the perspective of 6th graders and their perception of the world. As someone who is young enough to vividly remember 6th grade, some of the stuff in here is painfully accurate, making it all the more funny. Looking at beer as something scary, swearing excessively to be cool, not wanting people to remember who you were a year ago in elementary school, these are all incredibly relatable and make for some great comedy.
I think the three leads all did a solid job and definitely delivered surprisingly sharp comedic timing. Jacob Tremblay has already proven himself to be a star in his dramatic work with Room and Wonder but this proves that he certainly can fall back on comedy if he ever needs to. He is genuinely hilarious and delivers his jokes with a great level of sincerity. Keith L. Williams, who plays the overly honest and kind Lucas, is also great at capturing the sincerity and innocence of his character. His line delivery is occasionally a little flat but when he needs to deliver, he does. Finally, Brady Noon as Thor I think had one of the more interesting arcs in the film, as he is struggling with being cool or pursuing his love of singing. He feels the most natural with the raunchy material to me and might have made me laugh the most of the three.
I also think the script from Lee Eisenberg and director Gene Stupnitsky can also be seen as a reason this movie works so well. The jokes really do fly here incredibly fast and the majority of them worked for me. There are obvious comedic set pieces, like anything involving the various sex toys that are wielding like weapons by children, but there also so many quick throwaway lines that go by fast and are just as hilarious. One example of this working remarkably well was a scene where the three children are arguing over if they have insurance to cover an ambulance and Jacob Tremblay’s character panics and says “I don’t have insurance, all I have is a deductible” was priceless to me.
Despite how easy it was for me to watch and enjoy Good Boys, I am not naïve enough to assume it is for everyone. It is a raunchy movie with sex jokes and swearing. It is smarter than most movies with those elements but it still has those elements that I know are not for everyone. I also think the movie has some issues besides that. For one, some jokes are repeated consistently throughout and a few of them just do not need to be. For example, it is funny that Lucas has a girly scream, but after the fifth or sixth time hearing it, I was ready to move on from it.
There is also some pretty heavy themes that come into play later in the movie and while I am all for maturity in film, I think a more skilled set of writers would have made this more nuanced. I think the central core of what they were going for is nice, but the way the tone of the movie shifts so dramatically towards the end was a bit jarring for me.
Outside of that, I personally really enjoyed this movie and would certainly recommend it to many people like myself. It is a fairly basic studio comedy and it is hard to say whether this will be remembered among other movies Seth Rogan had his hands in producing, but for now it is probably one of the funnier things you could be seeing in theaters right now.