Good Boys ★★★


Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Writers: Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, Keith L. Williams, Midori Francis & Molly Gordon
Runtime: 89m

"Stop treating us like kids. We’re tweens, we know how things work."

With its adolescent characters and sensibilities, it's a little reductive to refer to, or perhaps even dismiss, GOOD BOYS as "SUPERBAD with kids" but that's effectively all it is. However, thanks to three hilarious performances from the young leads and an adventurous narrative that owes a knowing debt to Stranger Things and apes the conventions of films like THE GOONIES - albeit with just a few more gags about sex toys and MDMA - it's also genuinely entertaining and surprisingly heartfelt and witty.

Fully embracing the age-old, tried-and-tested idea that kids swearing and talking about sex will always be funny, GOOD BOYS is a crude but charming coming-of-age film that goes through all of the usual motions but does so with real skill and humour. The script places the characters into a series of adult situations and forces them to rely on each other and contend with the fact that, despite their "knowledge" of sex, drugs and internet porn, they're still just kids and maybe don't know quite as much about life as they think they do. The jokes, which are often crass, sometimes intelligent and almost always hit the mark, derive from this juxtaposition, which also underpins the film's themes of friendship and community.

The success of GOOD BOYS rests predominantly on the small shoulders of the three leads - Jacob Tremblay, best known for his star-making turn in ROOM, Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams - all of whom are brilliant. They each possess excellent comic timing and manage to deliver their profanity-laden lines without ever seeming cringe worthy or, to quote the film itself, "try hard". The screenplay is punchy and the film itself is an expeditious affair, coming in at just under 90 minutes. In that time, it manages to be consistently amusing and heart-warming, if not a little formulaic as it enters its final act.

It doesn't break any new ground but GOOD BOYS is a decent entry in the often excruciating gross-out coming-of-age genre, and I was pleasantly surprised by just how thoughtful and mature it actually is. It's not just a bunch of tweens swearing and talking about sex - though there is of course an abundance of that - but it's also a positive and endearing film about friendship and what it means to grow up. The relationship between the three protagonists is sweet and sincere, and as such the film does a great job of making you root for these adorable characters as they try to navigate their way through the world.