Buried somewhere between Gangnam Style and dabbing in the pop-culture graveyard, exploitative teenage-comedies rife with casual homophobia, misogyny, and objectification have no place in the 2019 zeitgeist.
Alas, we have the laugh-riot comedy Good Boys; a conscientious tale of friendship so hellbent on being more that it breaks new ground in progressing the teen-comedy genre.
Every ten years or so we get a comedy like Good Boys. A raunchy gross-out-fest that follows the twenty-four hour lead up to a party. Despite leaning into this territory for the sake of selling a coming-of-age story about friendship (the challenge is on to find one piece of marketing that doesn’t bear resemblance/acknowledgement to Superbad), Good Boys defies being compartmentalized into the category of crude teen-flicks thanks to director Gene Stupnitsky’s conscientious depiction of youth masculinity. A depiction that advocates respect for all and the removal of the stigma surrounding males being pressured to hide their emotions. Good Boys offers Coke where others have handed out Pepsi.
The ‘Bean Bag Boys’ Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) deliver ardent performances that allow Good Boys to achieve its ambition of making sensitivity cool. They sing, celebrate kindness, respect rules, are forthcoming with their feelings, and share an intense love for one another (and boy do they make this vocal). These are the type of young gentlemen that’d be volunteering at retirement homes on weekends and who’d give up their umbrella to a stranger on a rainy day. Need to borrow money? No worries, the Bean Bag Boys have got you covered.
However progressive the environment around them, the Bean Bag Boys are not trouble free. Girls, parents, drugs, alcohol, technology, the flickering flame of childhood being extinguished by the cold winds of life – you name a problem, and they got it. The Bean Bag Boys’ are at the start of their journey to adulthood with an invitation to attend the coolest kid at schools’ kissing party exacerbating the three’s insecurities and putting their friendship to the ultimate test. While not immune to taunts and pressure from their peers, Stupnitsky makes a conscientious effort to avoid using derogatory terms, resulting in a respectful, albeit optimistic, view of adolescence.
Their misadventures lead them into possessing contraband; an event which had the boys been able to master the art of baby proof seals – a sign of both their innocence and age – could have gone a whole lot darker. They understand the difference between right and wrong and avoid trouble at all costs – but boy do they find it. The threat of being caught by authority (Will Forte’s parent figure a fleeting presence but stealing every scene he is in), coupled with the cocktail of fizzling hormones that boils inside of them, escalates most of the shenanigans in Good Boys. Their naive defiance in the face of these muddy waters delivers the laughter in abundance, with Good Boys never separating itself from the humanity baked into the centre of the film.
Where Booksmart landed the three-point shot, showing how teen-comedies can be done intelligently, laugh-riot-comedy Good Boys jumps from the baseline to land the slam dunk – closing out the summer box-office with a progressive comedy that in its triumphant wake not only shatters the backboard but has audiences throwing orange peels into the air.
Good Boys, even better examples.
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon
Writers: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky