Movie Review: Good Boys

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R |

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

by Jason Koenigsberg

Coming of age movies are a dime a dozen in recent years. Earlier this summer audiences were given Booksmart, a female-centric riff on the teen-sex comedy combining it with the coming of age subgenre much like the modern comedy classic Superbad (2007). Good Boys borrowed from a lot of movies and is derivative of Superbad but will remind audiences even more of the now twenty-year-old summer sleeper hit American Pie (1999), only instead of high school kids wanting to lose their virginity, Good Boys has sixth-graders wanting to go to a party with girls to get their first kiss. 

The opening shot is a picture of a child in a frame and the camera pulls back and shows an airplane and then a sharks mouth. These are images of our main characters room and set the tone of what this kid and most boys his age care about. The first scene has him making a World of Warcraft avatar with large green breasts. This is a perfect intro to a twelve-year-old boy in a movie that is about him curious about the opposite sex but still stuck in a world where he relies on his parents and childhood friends from kindergarten for practically everything. While he is creating his avatar the song that is playing is one that was used in the movie Boogie Nights (1997) during a steamy scene so it is a not so subtle but not obvious choice to enhance the actions on screen before the boy’s father walks in. 

What separates Good Boys from a lot of the other raunchy sex comedies is that this movie involves tweens, and contains adult content that children the same age as the main characters could never see because of the R-rating (a big part of the films marketing campaign). Their age adds innocence to a lot of the scenes like when the boys find sex toys or realize that they are in possession of drugs and that innocence makes the humor stand out from other movies. A lot of the funniest moments sadly are ruined in the trailers, but fortunately, and this is a rarity these days, there are more than enough good jokes throughout the film that Good Boys is still worth seeing. The part where the boys go to a frat house to buy drugs is without a doubt the funniest moment from any movie this year so far. 

Good Boys does a lot of other things right as well as manufacturing laughs. The writers and director do a great job of capturing the point of view from the sixth graders. These filmmakers have gone to film school and done their homework. They learned from watching the masters like Scorsese and are using his techniques in their silly comedies making them funnier but also better directed than the average comedy. Good Boys has a sarcastic dramatic tone with its lighting, slow motion, and music cues. These elements add humor to a comedy already stacked with jokes. Also by directing the film this way it feels authentic from the boys POV. The filmmakers created a social hierarchy to the school and suburb that felt funny and natural. These kids really cared about the class system in their school and in a short time, the audience learned everything they needed to know about how it worked and where the main characters stood on the totem pole. 

Along with American Pie, Good Boys is coming out on the 20th anniversary of another landmark comedy, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, and Good Boys feels like a real-life South Park. Also commendable for this film, or perhaps patronizing depending on how the viewer feels about race depicted on film in this day and age, Good Boys messes with stereotypes. The black tween is the most morally righteous and honest character in the film, especially when he speaks to his parents and a police officer. Also, the black character is the boy least interested in getting his first kiss from a girl, not because of his sexual identity but he is a twelve-year-old kid who would rather play video games with his friends. He is immature and not interested in anything remotely sexual thus making him the goody-two-shoes of the group. On the flip side, the Asian characters are not shown as the rule followers and bookworms they are often stereotyped as. The Asians in this film are obsessed with getting drugs and the ones having parties, where they play make-out games in the basement while their parents turn a blind eye. Not a reason to like or dismiss Good Boys but an interesting talking point in a very funny movie. 

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