What if I were to tell you that the creators of Superbad and Sausage Party joined forces to deliver a brand new live-action comedy about a trio of foul-mouthed 12-year-olds that plays like a long episode of South Park (but without all the clever metaphors)? Well if that grabs your attention, then brace yourself for Gene Stupnitsky’s impudent and vulgar new comedy, Good Boys. However, if watching maturing tweens drop f-bombs for 95 minutes doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, then you’re better off moving along.
The “Bean Bag Boys” are made up of Max (Room’s Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams from last year’s SXSW entry Sadie) and Thor (Brady Noon), a trio of inseparable best friends slowly adjusting to middle school life. But when an impromptu invitation to a “kissing party” sends the guys on a mission to learn the ropes of making out, they recklessly destroy Max’s dad’s expensive drone. The Bean Bag Boys set out on a wild adventure to replace the drone and make it back to the party in time for Max to finally kiss the girl of his dreams.
Despite the film’s bullish irreverence, one that quickly loses its immediate sense of entertaining shock-value, Good Boys does navigate toward a warm and important central theme that helps keep this often messy and erratic tale somewhat grounded. You’ll laugh at the naivety of these youngsters as director Gene Stupnitsky and co-writer Lee Eisenberg continually places them in R-Rated situations that often rest well beyond the boys’ steep learning curve. Yet, the laughs earned by this uninspiring script symbolically reflect a cheap lack of creativity, as if thrusting these maturing children into a bevy of sexual innuendo and filling every other line of dialogue with adult language is an artistic substitute for clever screenwriting. There’s an overlying laziness that drowns out the film’s otherwise impactful sentiment, the belief that growing up involves finding your appropriate place amongst the tribal world in which we live. All of Tremblay, Williams and Noon clearly deserve more to work with as they offer up fully committed turns that are more impressive than anything else associated with Good Boys. And although the film does provide the occasional comedic highlight, ones that are almost exclusively tied to an unapologetically crude punchline, Good Boys ultimately resides as a forgettable effort overshadowed by countless other comedies at this year’s SXSW festival.