Seth Rogan recently joked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that his nephews are starting to believe he isn’t really an actor, because they are never allowed to see his movies. “Good Boys,” despite its focus on 12-year-olds, is no different, and has Seth Rogan written all over it. Surprisingly touching, raucously funny and wildly inappropriate, “Good Boys” is a film about children, and it’s a must-see for adults. I would leave the kids at home, not because of the sex jokes (your children are hearing those jokes in real life, whether you want to admit it or not), but because they won’t “get it” yet. Half the humor comes from looking back at the excruciating experience that was our adolescence and realizing how silly we were to worry about the things we did.
“Good Boys” centers around three sixth-grade boys: Max, Lucas and Thor. All are dealing with typical middle school problems; Thor longs to be accepted, and quits the school musical - despite having a lot of talent - in attempt to be “cool.” Max is hopelessly obsessed with a girl in his class but can’t make eye contact and has to use a middle-man friend to communicate with her. Lucas is ridiculed for following the rules, and is concealing a painful secret from friends - his parents are getting divorced. When Max is unexpectedly invited to a popular boy’s house for a kissing party, the boys realize that none of them have any experience with girls (despite each claiming to have ample experience). They decide to spy on their teenage female neighbors to attempt to learn how to kiss. From there, the day rapidly devolves into hilarity, and the gang is forced through a series of mishaps to skip school, get rid of drugs, run across a 12-lane highway, buy drugs, retrieve a drone, take three sips of beer, attack a frat house and more.
The movie could have easily been in rather poor taste considering its adult nature, but it was surprisingly heartfelt. We are brought back to the time when we would have crossed a 12-lane highway, gone against parents we respected, ditched our “uncool” passions just to be accepted, while trying to make sense of our raging hormones. It is only once we have grown that we realize just how silly that “cool” kid with the gelled hair and chain was, and marvel at how far we went to impress them. Despite all their posturing, the three kids are “good boys” and on their way to becoming admirable young adults, learning from their mistakes along the way.
Admittedly, the repetition of jokes playing on the boys’ misunderstandings of sexuality can get repetitive, but for the most part, the jokes land. I appreciated that sophomoric humor involving middle school boys and their growing understanding of sexuality was funny, but not at the expense of women (Lucas says rather seriously to Max, who is practicing on a “CPR” doll, “Wait! You can’t just kiss her; you have to ask for her consent!”)
The dialogue is surprisingly convincing, and finally we are given a mostly realistic portrayal of how children interact. So often children are one-dimensional characters, serving only to show one’s history as an adult, or as props in the stories of grownups. Each boy has his own insecurities and strengths, and the chemistry between the three friends is charming.
A touching story about growing up and about growing apart while appreciating one’s childhood friends, “Good Boys” is reminiscent of a less serious “Stand By Me,” and great performances from Jacob Tremblay and Midori Francis in particular make it well worth the watch.