Good Boys is not a film for kids, even though its stars are just that. In his directorial debut, Gene Stupnitsky, best known for his writing on the American version of The Office, shows his predecessors the way by writing a comedy that truly belongs in 2019. The film refuses to fall back on lazy tactics such as picking on the powerless and instead presents a true (if sometimes exaggerated) representation of what life is like for kids today.
While the jokes are top-notch, the real winner of the movie is how perfectly it captures what it is like to be twelve, no matter what generation we belong to. This is best shown when the film’s protagonist, Max, is invited to a party by the “cool kids”, which “the love of his life” will also be going to. But, this is not like any other party they have been to, because it’s a “kissing party”. The boys’ fear and interest are great examples of the complex mix of emotions most of us experience when growing up.
Most of the plot comes from the boys’ mishaps when they must replace the broken drone that Max’s dad explicitly told him not to touch. This involves selling a sex doll to Stephen Merchant’s character, crossing a busy highway and buying drugs from a frat house, while at the same time trying to evade two girls whose drugs they stole.
Unlike most of us, the boys have grown up with the internet, using it as a source of knowledge and advice. This leads to some pretty interesting results, such as when they try to learn how to kiss by watching porn.
An obstacle I was expecting this movie to stumble across was authentically representing what it’s like to be twelve years old in 2019. However, it does this almost flawlessly, without overcompensating the use of emojis or slang like other movies do (the word “lit” was only said a couple of times). Technology is shown to be an integral part of their life––not their whole world––as some adults would like to think.
A great element of the comedy genre is that it allows things to be said that otherwise wouldn’t be allowed in normal circumstances. But for too long this has meant dominant groups in society using the genre as an excuse to bully minorities because “it’s only a joke”. In a refreshing twist, this film doesn’t rely on jokes that are racist, sexist or offensive to any minority, except maybe twelve-year-olds. This is especially surprising considering the film features a relatively diverse cast with one of the main boys Lucas and the main love interest identifying as African American. The other students featured are as diverse as any classrooms in 2019.
While watching a lot of comedies it feels like there are moments where the movie is telling me to laugh, without the moment actually being funny. Luckily, there were none of these moments in Good Boys. If I’m being honest, though, there were a few scenes where I braced myself expecting the typical crude jokes other comedies would’ve used. But to my surprise the film shocked me with its fresh take on the genre, focusing on the boy’s ignorance and innocence.
Most of the humour is created by contrasting the boys’ lack of knowledge and their desire to immerse themselves in an adult world. This creates hilarious scenes like when they’re trying to pop Lucas’ dislocated shoulder back in and give him a ball gag to bite onto or when Max gives his crush anal beads, thinking it’s a necklace. It’s nice to be reminded of the innocence of children every once in a while, among a world that feels so hectic.
This film encourages me to feel hopeful for the generation that is growing up today with their abundance of knowledge and acceptance. However, I am now wary about having my own children because of the crazy adventures the boys went on. If you’ve grown tired of comedies for their old-school antics, I recommend giving this film a watch before you give up hope completely.
Good Boys is out in cinemas now!