CINEMASCOPE: BOYS WILL BE MEN

September 15, 2019

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During Good Boys, I had the same reaction as I did when I saw South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) some 20 years ago. I laughed with incredulity as I watched the three seemingly innocent sixth graders — Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) use shockingly filthy language, and discuss drugs and sexually explicit things throughout the movie. Yet, I also felt apprehensive.

Watching the equally young characters in South Park was funny without the feeling of unease. That’s because beloved characters in South Park are voiced by adults such as Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Moreover, the content is usually a spoof or satirical.

I love a good raunchy comedy and I’m in favour of pushing the envelope, but seeing 12-year-old actors talk like old sailors almost felt exploitative. Let me put it this way: Good Boys is rated R; anyone under the age of 18 can’t see it. Yet, its three main actors, whose dialogue is responsible for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating, can’t see it because they’re too young.

There’s more to Good Boys than its R-rated shock humour — underneath its racy exterior is a heartfelt film

If the content of the film is unsuitable for anyone under the age of 18 to see, why is it acceptable to hire 12-year-olds to create it? While it’s not unrealistic for 12-year-olds to curse and talk about sex, Good Boys puts them in unlikely situations so that we can be shocked into laughter.

These questions tugged at my mind as I chuckled throughout the film. The film’s a bit like another Seth Rogan-fuelled coming-of-age high school comedy, Superbad (2007), but with much younger characters. To be fair, there’s more to Good Boys than its shock humour. Underneath its racy exterior is a heartfelt film.

The three characters in Good Boys seem to suffer from typical boy problems in America. There is Lucas, who happens to be the most interesting of the bunch. His parents are getting divorced and he leans on his friends for support during this troubled time in his life. Thor loves to sing but is afraid of getting teased by his classmates, especially because he used to be taken more seriously. Meanwhile Max, a boy who attracts trouble but has a good heart, is afraid of kissing his crush Brixlee (Millie Davis).

The friends fight after realising that they’re not seeing eye to eye, though eventually mend fences. Soon, they get involved in a few more amusing adventures.

To remedy this, the trio use Max’s dad’s drone to watch his neighbour Hannah. The plan is to spy on her while she’s kissing so that they can learn how to do it better. Unfortunately, their drone is caught. Here follow some hilarious adventures, involving ecstasy, as the boys try to find a new drone for Max’s dad (Will Forte) to avoid getting into hot water.

The friends fight after realising that they’re not seeing eye to eye, though eventually mend fences. Soon, they get involved in a few more amusing adventures.

If the plot seems a bit random, that’s because it is. While the film is quite funny, the pacing, direction and writing can be uneven. However, the three young actors do a fine job in their roles. Their performances are entertaining, moving and beyond their years. They should be able to watch the film in about six years.

Rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout — all involving tweens

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 15th, 2019