Good Boys (2019)

Good Boys Movie Poster.jpgDirector: Gene Stupnitsky
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, Keith L. Williams, Will Forte, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Josh Caras, Christian Darrel Scott, Lil Rel Howery, Sam Richardson, Retta, Millie Davis, Chance Hurtsfield, Izaac Wang

Having served as writer for many episodes of The Office, and even directed one episode, Good Boys marks the feature directorial debut for Gene Stupnitsky. Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this feature is rather similar to the features the pair made their name on. As such, your enjoyment may vary on how you feel about the pair's work.

After getting invited to his first kissing party, 12 year old Max (Jacob Tremblay) is worried because he doesn't know how to kiss. Wanting to understand how to kiss, Max turns to his friends Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and they use his dad's drone to spy on their next door neighbours. Things don't go according to plan, and the three friends end up skipping school to try and replace the drone before Max's dad (Will Forte) gets home.

Central to the film is the premise of young boys, enacting in hijinks and regularly swearing, as we've seen teenagers and adults do a multitude of times before. It's an aspect which wears thin, feeling like a single joke needlessly stretched out, and isn't helped by how hit and miss the jokes can be. It's a regular component seen in such features, but thankfully, the filmmakers avoid the casual misogyny which can also rear its head. When the characters make questionable actions or comments, they're rightfully called out on it, and the time is even taken to address the necessity of consent.

As his star rises ever more, Jacob Tremblay once more shows how versatile a performer he can be, as he delivers on the comedic timing, while his character grapples with first love. Acting alongside him is Brady Noon, who greatly embodies the inner struggle of his character, Thor. He loves nothing more than to sing, but wants to be perceived as cool by the other kids, so is willing to pretend to be something he's not. Rounding off their trio is Keith L. Williams as Lucas, a boy who cares for authority, but is struggling with the recent news of his parents divorcing. He is also the film's riotous scene-stealer, delivering the humorous lines with a fantastic delivery. Be sure to keep an eye out for him in the future.

What works especially well is how Stupnitsky frames the film through these adolescent eyes, as their whole lives lay ahead of them, and these boys are having to face the changes which comes with such transitions. It's fun to see them interact with more adult elements, or use words without understanding their actual meaning, but what's more interesting is seeing them grapple with what growing up means. They may have been friends for a long time, but they're on their own paths, and have to cope with how that affects their long-time friendship, in scenes which resonate rather well.

While it may be hit and miss with the comedy, Good Boys is more successful in the thoughtful and heartfelt parts.