The Boys are All Right
DIRECTED BY GENE STUPNITSKY / 2019
I’m certain that there will be those who will hold Good Boys up as a prime example of our declining civilization. This comedy about a trio of thirteen-year-olds who have an adventurous day skipping school in order to replace a broken drone gleefully leans into its R-rating in ways that let you know this isn’t another attempt at The Goonies. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t rely (solely) upon its tweens repeatedly using the f-word for cheap laughs. It’s raunchy, funny and surprisingly touching.
Jacob Tremblay (2015’s Room) plays Max, a kid just starting the 6th grade alongside his lifelong friends, Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon). The three of them are trying to figure out how they fit in their new middle-school ecosystem. And Max, in particular, is trying to figure out how to act on the crush he has on fellow classmate Brixlee (Millie Davis). When Max is offered the chance to attend a kissing party Brixlee will be at, he jumps at it. The three friends (they call themselves ‘The Bean Bag Boys,’ cause, you know, they have a lot of bean bags) realize this is their opportunity to get in good with the ‘cool’ crowd- they just need to learn how to kiss first.
Raunchy, funny and surprisingly touching.
This leads to a series of comic misadventures as the boys race to replace a drone owned by Max’s dad. Along the way they have to raise the money for the drone, journey to the store across town to buy a replacement, all the while avoiding the wrath of the two older teenage girls whose drugs the Bean Bag Boys stole. They must do this all before Max’s dad returns home to discover the broken drone, which will lead to him forbidding Max from going to the party, thus ruining Max’s chance with Brixlee and destroying his life forever. Whoever said being a kid was simple?
Lucas and Thor, meanwhile are dealing with their own issues. Lucas’s parents tell him their getting a divorce, and no matter how they try to put a positive spin on it (“You’ll get two Taco Tuesdays, it’s just that one will be on Wednesday”), Lucas understands this isn’t a good thing. Thor, meanwhile, is pressured into giving up his chance to audition for an upcoming school musical. He loves to sing and is really good at it, but is taunted by the cool kids when they catch him signing up.
All of the ‘Bean Bag Boys’ have to deal with the perils of growing up as they journey on their quest. Peer pressure, sense of identity, relationships- these are some of the dangerous shoals they must wind their way through before the end of the movie. The lessons they learn along the way are heartfelt and kind of sweet. Good Boys leavens this potentially sacchirine material with a healthy dose of sex and drug jokes, most of which play into the kids’ limited understanding of the weird ways of grown ups.
It’s the balance between the profane and the earnest that Good Boys walks so well.
The relative innocence of the kids (all the kids) is the source of much of the humor. Thor is pressured into taking a sip of beer by the cool kids. Three sips is the record. Thor vows to do four! “That’s impossible!” one of the kids says in awe. Another recurring gag occurs when the “Bean Bag Boys” don’t recognize a pile of sex toys for what they are. This leads to a series of funny gross-out moments as thIt’s the balance between the profane and the earnest that Good Boys walks so well.e kids repurpose these items for what they think are their intended uses.
It’s the balance between the profane and the earnest that Good Boys walks so well. Too much of one or the other would have blunted its humor to the point of weariness. Co-written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, and directed by Stupnitsky, Good Boys pairs its low-brow funny bone with a heart and a brain. The result is a film that is a pleasant surprise, a genuinely funny and warm film about the challenges in growing older, and the many uses of anal beads.