Monday September 09, 2019
Movie Review: Good Boys (2019)
These types of movies—the machinations involved in getting to a party, troubles therein and lessons learned—are usually reserved for high school or college kids (most recently: “Booksmart”); but as you’re watching “Good Boys,” you’re thinking, “Yeah, why not 12-year-olds?”
Answer: 12-year-olds generally aren’t the actors 18-to-22-year-olds are. Particularly when it comes to comedy.
These kids are alright, though. Maybe with a better director, or better editor, we would’ve seen fewer bumps. Anyway, I laughed a lot. And smiled. And remembered.
Max, Lucas and Thor (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon) are best buds who call themselves “the Beanbag Boys” because they like lounging in beanbags in a tent in Thor’s room and talking their talk. Periodically, they’re interrupted by Thor’s little sister, Annabelle, who appears out of nowhere, creepily, like in a horror movie. It’s a good bit.
As the movie opens, they’ve just started sixth grade, and each has his own dilemma:
- Max likes a girl, Brixlee (Millie Davis), but doesn’t know how to let her know beyond talking to her—which is way too scary
- Thor wants to try out for the school musical “Rock of Ages” and fit in with the popular kids—wishes that are mutually exclusive
- Lucas’ parents are getting divorced, so he’s becoming even more of a straight arrow than he normally is
At the local park, the cool kids (sadly, with slicked-back hair, like Spike Fonzarelli) take our boys into the woods and offer a beer. The goal is to sip it. The record is three sips. No one has been able to sip a beer more than three times. Max manages but Thor can’t, and he’s subsequently labeled “Sippy Cup.” Leads to a good line during school lunch when someone mocks him:
Does this look like a sippy cup? No, it's a fucking juice box! Because I'm not a fucking child!
Language aside, these kids are the good boys of the title. They’re innocent and rather sweet-natured. Max is invited to a kissing party, at which Brixlee will be in attendance, and he worries about never having kissed anyone. So he and the others use Max’s dad’s drone to spy on the neighborhood high school girl, Hannah (Molly Gordon, Triple A of “Booksmart”), to maybe see her kissing with her douchey boyfriend. Instead, Hannah captures the drone and won’t give it back. The boys then steal her purse, which includes ecstasy in a childproof vitamin container, and a swap is suggested. But Lucas balks at trafficking in drugs, they try to steal the drone back, but it’s crushed by an oncoming car. Now they have to buy a new one before Max’s dad (Will Forte, who played Molly’s dad in “Booksmart”) returns from a business trip. This involves a trip to the mega mall 4+ miles away—all the while pursued by Hannah and her friend Lily (Midori Francis), who, at one point, offers a good “T2” chase parody.
Occasionally, screenwriters Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (“Bad Teacher,” “The Office”) and director Stupnitsky (making his directorial debut) push the envelope too much, as when Lucas dislocates his shoulder and the boys ram him into a metal trash bin to shove it back into place. Sometimes they don’t push it enough. None of these boys, for example, think of having the high school girls teach them to kiss? They are good boys. At that age, that would’ve been my first, last and only thought.
Plus the movie goes on too long.
But it’s funny. I like the Kwiki-Mart scene. I like Sam Richardson, who played Richard Splett on “VEEP,” as the bored cop to whom Lucas keeps confessing everything. I like Lucas’ high-pitched squeal. I like the boys trying to make sense of the world. “That's a tampon,” Max says with authority. “Girls shove it up their buttholes to stop babies from coming out.”
Ultimately the boys prove their mettle—Max kisses the girl and Thor takes an unprecedented fourth sip of beer—but they’re already beginning to outgrow what united them. Each wants different things. There’s melancholy in this. You can’t help but think about your own boyhood friends and the paths taken.