This is a seemingly heartfelt but unusually vulgar coming-of-age comedy about 12-year-old boys. It follows in the footsteps of 2007’s much-admired Superbad, hitting the usual notes of awkwardness and long-term friendships that are tested when the main characters’ interests diverge.
The boys here have just started sixth grade, a big deal for them, and one wants to attend a “kissing party” in hopes of kissing a girl he admires. Instead of googling the phrase “how to kiss,” which is suggested early on and would obviate the need for the whole adventure, he and his friends send his father’s off-limits drone to spy on older teenagers in the act of smooching.
The drone gets confiscated by outraged neighbors, which leads to no end of trouble. Along the way, we learn that the boys don’t understand the concept of sex toys, the definition of nymphomania, the purpose of tampons, what Molly (ecstasy) is and whether they can hold three swigs of beer. Not surprisingly, they try to bluff their ways through situations they can’t quite fathom and sometimes are taunted for this, mercilessly, by classmates.
Grownups may enjoy watching this mishmash and perhaps reminiscing about their own earlier years. No such luck for tweens facing similar situations, however; the film has been rated R and is too risqué for delicate young’uns.
The three young actors acquit themselves well in a script that assures they don’t get into any serious trouble. They also say “fuck” less often than adults in movies. Still, in a time when most comedies are R-rated, is there any room for a funny story about adolescents that doesn’t shoehorn in some nasty stuff? That is perhaps more faithful to their typical experiences?
If the audience at the theater where I saw the movie was typical, the demographic most interested in Good Boys is grown men, who perhaps were interested after seeing the dildos, anal beads and sex swing in the above trailer. This is speculation, of course, but also a little concerning.
The movie was the most popular last weekend, which may be more a reflection of the limits of late-summer film offerings than anything else.
On the other hand, it sold almost as many tickets in one weekend as the entire 11-week run of Booksmart, a female version of Superbad that was much more critically praised. Is it possible that the audience for girl-themed vulgarity has yet to be developed?