Hit and miss is a term ubiquitous with comedian, actor, writer, producer and director Seth Rogen’s movie catalogue, with laughs in abundance guaranteed to a degree, but sometimes a plot with the inner depth of a collapsed well. In 2007, Superbad emphatically catapulted Rogen’s career behind the camera into the stratosphere, whilst also presenting the breakthrough performance of a then 24-year-old Jonah Hill. Since then, there has been a wave like a rise and fall in the filmmaker’s work, pushing the boundaries further with projects like Sausage Party and The Interview, or more serious classics like Knocked Up, the multi-award nominated Disaster Artist and, most recently, Long Shot with Charlize Theron.
Rogan is this time a producer with colleague Evan Goldberg, and Good Boys appears to be an amalgamation of the lot, dropping adolescent innocence into a bubbling cauldron of sexual profanity and serving up a piping hot cup of Superbad enacted by 12 year olds. Written and directed by Gene Stupnitsky alongside Lee Eisenberg, Good Boys stars Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith L Williams as tweens Max, Thor and Lucas (otherwise known as The Beanbag Boys), a trio that embarks on an adventure of discovery when they are unexpectedly invited to their first kissing party. Rather inexperienced in that department, the boys conduct some frantic research that includes searching the World Wide Web, CPR doll practice and spying on their neighbours. However, such acts do not come without consequences. When the mates find their position compromised and Max’s dad’s drone is captured, they must tackle drug dealers, cross freeways and find a way of making enough money to buy a new drone, all before the dreaded kissing party begins.
In true Stupnitsky and Rogen style, Good Boys is side-splittingly funny with incredibly and sometimes unjustifiably crude humour, hyperbolised further by the simple fact that the main trio are merely sixth graders. It is these elements of unapologetic blasphemy splurging out of the mouths of pre-teens that the movie seems to entrench its core foundations in and then rely upon to carrying this simple crowd-pleaser to fruition, much to the enjoyment and horror of the viewer.
The plot is fairly basic, with little actually happening during the 89-minute run time. The gags stream out in a fairly balanced manner and are all well timed and delivered by the young cast, all of whom bear an uncanny resemblance to younger incarnations of Danny McBride, James Franco and Craig Robinson. They certainly would not have looked out of place playing the boys’ fathers. Jacob Tremblay is no longer the sweet little starlet from Room or Wonder thanks to Stupnitsky’s comedic writing and direction. The problem is that the language is oh so very crude and the jokes rather repetitive and exhausting after their 20th encore. The writing is very lazy, filling holes with sexual innuendos left, right and centre, and the explicit language becomes a little nauseating, continuously heard from child actors no older than 13. Despite this, the plot does keep viewers guessing at times and the three boys’ incredible energy and screen presence sells the dialogue with total conviction, hence the raucous laughter that ensues, more than a few times, around the screening room.
It’s possible to see what the goal was with Good Boys, but the final product just comes across a little more awkward than barnstorming, a coming-of-age comedy that perhaps needs protagonists a couple of years older to fully crack the nut that Superbad managed to do so well. At least this is an outrageous, fun-filled ride that promises a million-and-one laughs.
Good Boys is released nationwide on 16th August 2019.
Watch the trailer for Good Boys here: