“Good Boys”

“Good Boys”

The joke about “Good Boys” is that none of the main characters are old enough to see the movie. There’s lots of cussing. It’s crude. There’s sex and drugs and alcohol, and plenty more talk about these for-mature-audiences-only topics. It has a well-earned R-rating.

But how else is one to give an unvarnished portrayal of a gaggle of sixth-grade boys? They cuss because it’s new and cool, and it’s what big kids do—though, hilariously, they don’t really know how to cuss, and they don’t know how to pronounce the more salacious words they use, and they hardly even understand their racy topics of conversation. Like a pubescent boy’s overgrown feet, their minds are coming of age a little more quickly than they can handle with any kind of coordination.

Max (Jacob Tremblay) is a tad more mature than the others. The other two members of the friend group—Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon)—are mostly posers. The biggest difference is that, while they all talk a lot about sex, only Max actually has the raging hormones to back it up.

And the object of those hormones, and Max’s undying affection, is Brixlee (Millie Davis). He doesn’t really know her. But he’s way into her. So, naturally, he makes her something in art class, consults with the necessary intermediaries, and works the middle-school back channels to set up an all-important rendezvous with Brixlee.

Luckily, a “kissing party” is coming up and Max sees his opening.

Meanwhile, Lucas and Thor have their own stuff to deal with. Lucas’ parents are getting divorced. Thor, despite his rough exterior, is hardly winning the admiration of school bullies, and he feels that all-too-common pressure to be something other than what he wants to be (which is a Broadway-style singer).

Still, despite their mix of pre-teen woes, they all end up getting wrapped up in Max’s plot. Max realizes he doesn’t know how to kiss. But instead of just Googling the dang thing, the three boys use Max’s dad’s drone to spy on some teenagers who, they figure, must be kissing.

They aren’t. But the teens do notice the drone. And then things spiral out of control (including the drone). Now Max and co. have a new problem—getting busted by Max’s dad for quasi-larceny and full-on destruction of property.

So they have to get a drone. Which means they must somehow get to the mall on their own while also avoiding the pissed off teens and while still making the necessary preparations for the kissing party. Oh, and also while being cool—they have to be cool as well.

“Good Boys” delivers a minor miracle. It portrays middle school boys in a way that more-or-less rings true, and yet also, somehow, makes them endearing—even, dare I say it, loveable. What really is the worst demographic in the known universe comes out looking, not just human, or understandably vulnerable, but also kind of sweet.

The movie is funny, too. And smartly funny. It has an extra layer of wit and biting sarcasm, which, coupled with the fun (if not groundbreakingly innovative) situational humor, makes for a smile-inducing 90 minutes.

“Good Boys” does not have grand ambitions. It tries to be charming and succeeds, but the film is not sappy, nor does it pack a particularly heavy emotional punch. It takes the kids, but not itself, seriously.  

So, if you’re at least five years older than the kids in this movie, or have a parent or guardian lax enough to take you, it’s worth a good time.

“Good Boys” is rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout—all involving tweens.

Matt Duncan, a former Coastal View News editor, has taken physical but not emotional leave from Carpinteria to be a philosophy professor at Rhode Island College. In his free time from philosophizing, Duncan enjoys chasing his kids around, watching movies and updating his movie review blog, duncansreeldeal.blogspot.com.

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