The quicker Jacob Tremblay gets “The Predator” buried on his IMDb page, the better.
“Good Boys” follows three new sixth graders (Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams) who must get their drone back before attending a cool kid’s party later that night. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg act as producers as Gene Stupnitsky directs, as well as co-wrote the script with Lee Eisenberg.
Studio comedies have become a bit of a dubious question mark in recent years, all-too-often being overpriced and underwhelming, resulting in less people trusting the next film that comes out. For example, between “Game Night” in February 2018 and “Booksmart” this past May, I’m not sure a single truly funny film was released. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait over a year following “Booksmart” as “Good Boys” is pretty funny. It leans a little too much into the barrel to scrape some obvious jokes and milk them for all they’re worth (we get it, kids not knowing what adult sex toys are is funny), but there are some moments where I had to stiffen my laughter out of respect to my fellow audience members simply because I was still wheezing long after a punchline had been delivered.
The central performers are all pretty good, especially given the fact they’re 12-year-olds being asked to deliver some adult-level language and even an emotional scene or two. We know Jacob Tremblay can act, he earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination at the ripe age of 8, and he seems to be having a ball here. Brady Noon probably has the brightest comedic future of the trio, with a great emphasis when he drops an F-bomb and a great (in what I assume is his real) singing voice. Keith L. Williams also delivers some laughs, although his shrieking goodie two-shoes character becomes pretty predictable after a while (and they miss two points that could’ve been good character-building moments).
While “Booksmart” felt like a true, honest high school movie, I’m not sure how accurate this is of the sixth grade. I don’t think kids my age were obsessed with saying the F-bomb and trying to take sips of beer just quite yet, and we certainly didn’t have smartphones; if you were lucky you had a flip phone by seventh grade. But maybe times have changed, who knows. I’d just hate to think all kids truly strive to exemplify the lifestyle of Jake Paul …
Also, like I kind of got at earlier, not every joke lands and the film just starts to jump from set piece to set piece with no real inspiration. There is energy and fast-enough pacing, for sure, but a lot of the elaborate set-ups come up short; the true gems here are in the delivery and randomness of people’s responses.
“Good Boys” is a good time at the movies, and harkens back to when studios would put a quality comedy in the dog days of August, a la “Tropic Thunder” or “We’re the Millers.” It may not always stick its intended landing and it leans a little too much into its vulgar and raunchy side, but at the end of the day I found myself laughing often, several times beyond the subsequent lines of dialogue, and I think is enough for a passing grade in my book.
Critic’s Rating: 7/10.