THE GOOD VERSION OF SUPERBAD
Good Boys Rated: MA15+ Review: Ben O’Shea Rating: 6/10
Good Boys might not be the prequel to 2007’s Superbad, but for all intents and purposes, it basically is. Superbad, which was written by Seth Rogen and starred a young Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, was a day-in-the-life tale of 17-year-old high school boys, who get into all sorts of trouble on the way to a graduation party where they hope to lose their virginity.
In Good Boys, a movie produced by Rogen but directed and co-written by Gene Stupnitsky, a former writer on the US version of The Office, 17-year-old boys are replaced by 12-year-olds, and the endgame is not the horizontal lambada but a far more innocent round of spin the bottle.
Other than that, the two movies are remarkably similar.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, mind you, because Superbad was a critical and commercial hit and remains one of the great high school movies of all time. Good Boys won’t hit those heights, however, despite solid performances from young leads Jacob Tremblay (star of Room and Wonder), Keith L. Williams, and Brady Noon, who play sixth-grade besties, Max, Lucas and Thor.
When the lads get invited to a cool kids’ “kissing party”, Max sees it as an opportunity to plant one on Brixlee, the love of his young life, but an ill-conceived plan to gain kissing intel by spying on a neighbour sparks a war with two teenage girls.
Meanwhile, bullying has Thor questioning his dreams of being a singer and Lucas finds himself navigating uncharted waters after his parents announce they are getting a divorce.
Will making it to the party bring them closer together or tear the Bean Bag Boys apart?
Or, as it is in Superbad, will the journey teach us that it is OK for friendships to evolve?
Some people might find it a little challenging to hear pre-teens swear like dock workers and mistake sex toys for martial arts equipment but this is not the film’s shortcoming.
Ironically, Good Boys is ultimately undone because it is too good, not too bad.
The script of Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg is surprisingly sweet, and often poignant, with the boys’ excitement over swigging a sip of beer and having a first kiss ringing true to experiences most of us had.
And the gags are funny, even if there are not nearly enough of them. But, as a result, you end up with an authentic reproduction of the human experience, circa 12 years of age, in a movie that is unfit for 12-year-olds.
In the end, Stupnitsky’s film is so Superbad, it’s good, but it sure ain’t great.
Good Boys is good, but not great, starring Brady Noon, Jacob Tremblay and Keith L. Williams.