GOOD BOYS

Comedy films often have some sort of gimmick that creates the comedic situations we’re about to see unfold. Comedy is there to make us laugh and sometimes the things that make us laugh are when things aren’t what they’re supposed to be. A classic comedy gimmick is to have children act like adults. Kids aren’t supposed to curse, drink beer, or think about sex, but that’s what makes it funny. However, the joke just can’t stop there. You can have plenty of vulgar humor, but it should be done with at least a little bit of wit and soul to keep it consistently funny. 
 
Close friends Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon), and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) are a trio of 12-year-old Good Boys. They’re not considered cool kids at school, but when they’re suddenly invited to a “kissing party”, they scramble to learn how to kiss before said party. Well, this innocent quest for knowledge goes from simply Googling porn, all the way to dealing with drug dealers in frat houses and running across freeways. A bunch of kid hijinks ensue. 
 
The big gimmick for Good Boys seemed to be that it was like a 12-year-old version of Superbad. Instead of high schoolers going through a series of misadventures to get laid, we have 6th graders going through a series of misadventures to kiss a girl. What it felt more like to me was a live-action, extended episode of South Park. South Park’s initial selling point was that it was an edgy and vulgar cartoon that pushed any boundary it could. However, it’s also known for its intelligence, wit, heart, and so much more. With Good Boys, we definitely get kids cussing and making sex jokes, but it’s all cleverly implemented. These are ignorant, naïve 12-year-olds, and they show it every step of the way with their misunderstanding of drugs and sex toys. They get into a whole lot of crazy situations, but none of them too over the top. The craziest it gets is them running across freeways, which is all perfectly plausible. It’s all pretty grounded and part of it feeling so grounded is the story it tells between the three kids. Like all childhood friends, people eventually grow apart and that’s a huge theme of the film. Everybody ends up going their own separate ways eventually, but it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye forever. 
 
That heart doesn’t come from nowhere, though. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produced this and you can definitely feel their hands in it. I’ve talked numerous times about how they don’t get enough credit for their fantastic screenplays. They don’t want to just make comedies, but genuine movies with stories and characters that aim to make you laugh.  Their films always have a genuine heart and soul to them, where even if the situations get completely unrealistic, everything still feels so genuine. They only produced this, though, so while they obviously had a large part in all of it, most of the credit goes to writer/director Gene Stupnitsky and his co-writer Lee Eisenberg. Their script is sharp, clever, and all has this hyperactive energy to it, perfectly complementing our character’s ages. While the set-up to get all of the events in motion is a bit contrived, all of the shenanigans they get into have a natural progression in their stakes. Stupnitsky even gave the film a lot of visual style, with some inventive cinematography and energetic editing to keep that pace up. The pace does drag a bit in the end when everything wraps up, but it still provides an incredibly satisfying emotional payoff with the characters. 

Enough about heart and soul in your movie, though. This is a comedy, so the number one question is, is it funny? Well, no. It’s not funny. It’s absolutely hysterical from the first minute to the last. It’s mostly thanks to the three incredibly talented young actors, who all brilliantly play off each other with their natural friendship chemistry. The fact that they’re all actually kids made all of their dialogue, mannerisms, and interactions seem very genuine. Some lines even seemed like they were improvised and it really felt like the filmmakers gave the kids a bit of leeway in developing their characters. While they are all best friends, they still have their differences and own interests, which adds to their respective subplots. Jacob Tremblay is probably the finest child actor working today, and while he’s pretty much just been in dramas before, he’s an excellent comic actor too. That’s no slight to Brady Noon or Keith L. Williams, though, who are both just as excellent. All three of these kids are astoundingly funny, that they practically make it look effortless. They’re just as good in the dramatic scenes, too, so the story beats hit just as hard as the comedy. 

I mentioned that the resolution seemed to drag a bit, which is true, but what’s most important, is that Good Boys never once stopped being funny. There have definitely been a few quality comedies lately, but Good Boys is no doubt the hardest and most consistently I’ve laughed in a theater in years. I had tears in my eyes and was constantly covering my mouth to stifle my obnoxious laughter, but even better, I actually cared about what was going on. Unlike its titular protagonists, it has wit, maturity, depth, and a whole lot of heart, but just like its protagonists, it’s sidesplittingly funny. It’s a comedy that begs for a second viewing, because it’s so dense with jokes and gags, it seems like you’ll never see them all, but those are the best kinds of comedies: the kind that always keeps you watching and laughing. 
 
9/10 

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