Stand By Weenus

‘Good Boys’: a By-The-Book Raunch Comedy

I saw the Good Boys movie. Set, like all teen comedies, in suburban Chicago that is actually suburban Los Angeles, this little chubby of a flick follows the predictably outrageous adventures of three tween buddies, who call themselves the “Beanbag Boys,” because they all own beanbags. They’re prepubescent virgin goody-goodies who spend most of their time playing a Magic: The Gathering knockoff. But they’re not exactly dorks, either. When a popular dude invites Max, the most stereotypically-named and coolest of the Beanbag Boys to a “kissing party,” it sets off a silly and raunchy chain of events that have basically zero consequences.


GOOD BOYS ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Gene Stupnitsky
Written by: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis
Running time: 89 min


 

Because we’re talking about children here, not teens, everything stays pretty innocent. That said, the good boys still end up sniffing anal beads and busting up a frat party with a paintball gun. They buy drugs and one of them mangles his arm pretty good. Stephen Merchant shows up as a guy with a hard-on for a CPR doll. Along the way, the Good Boys learn lessons about acceptance and growing up and embracing their true selves while saying “fuck” every other word. There are plenty of laugh lines and malapropisms. An innocent, friendly sweetness underlies the proceedings. But this still feels like something generic.

When sandwiched by hot college girls, Jacob Tremblay just whines and whines in ‘Good Boys.’

Written and directed by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who rose to prominence as writers on The Office, Good Boys watches cynical, as though written by a robot that knows the formula. Also, I hate to break it to the writers, but they’re old, like over 40. So even though this movie is about kids, the soundtrack is all classic rock songs from the 80s. A “Stranger Things” reference reminds us that, though it takes place in the present day, Good Boys is nostalgic for the past like everything else coming out of the Dream Factory.

While it’s far from a fantasy, Good Boys also has no basis in reality. Like in a lot of Hollywood comedies, everyone appears to have unlimited money. Kids throw around hundreds of dollars like they’re Jolly Ranchers. Nothing is too expensive and no house is too large. Adults have access to unlimited sex toys and mounds of cocaine.

The Good Boys float on a magic carpet of privilege. They will never get into trouble and will always, in the end, get what they want.  Multiracial and shot through with conversations about “consent,” Good Boys doesn’t offend in the contemporary sense. But like every other mainstream studio comedy, it’s shot through with class blindness. What does getting kissed matter when you can mindlessly drop 600 bucks at the mall?

This concludes my review of the Good Boys movie.

Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of ten semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. He's written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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