‘Good Boys’ is equally awkward, gangly, raunchy, painfully funny
As a producer, Seth Rogen has a knack for finding heart in the profane. Since he first served in that role in 2004 (when he was a mere 23 years old!) as co-producer of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” he has managed to back pictures that can keep sensitive audiences on their heels, but also contain a surprising amount of warmth in the relationships of their characters.
From “Superbad” to “50/50” to “Neighbors” and the animated “Sausage Party,” Rogen has an ear for mixing his vulgarity with charity. That is certainly on display in “Good Boys,” for which Rogen serves as a producer.
We enter middle school turf here with three 11-year-old buddies: the faux-tough guy Thor (played by Brady Noon), the supersized rule follower Lucas (played by Keith I. Williams) and the sweetly girl-crazy Max (played by Jacob Tremblay). They all talk as though they walked off a live-action version of “South Park,” as the boys are far from the coolest in the class, and they think that dropping swear words will certainly increase their ranking.
Max gets invited to his first junior high party where his class crush in slated to attend. Being the good friend that he is, Max persuades the pint-sized party host to allow his buddies to come, despite their obviously low social ranking. This party becomes our hero’s journey, filled with various obstacles along the way that threaten Max’s chance of landing that all-important first kiss.
Much of the action and humor in “Good Boys” is derived from watching the boys awkwardly dropping random f-bombs and getting involved in situations that they themselves over-complicate by the very fact that they are, indeed, good boys. And while the film can sometimes rely a tad too much on the sight of these kiddos unwittingly wielding sex toys without a clue, there is still many an outlandish scenario that yields considerable laughs.
Those easily offended will certainly find many occasions to take umbrage in “Good Boys,” but those who look past the foul-mouths and focus on the core trio of do-gooders will find the film to be a sometimes touching tale of the unshakable bonds of friendship and the pressures of life that can sometimes pull them apart like Laffy Taffy.
The film’s ending stumbles a bit to make its point about the pals’ ability to walk separate paths and still remain close, but you have to appreciate the effort. It’s much more ragged and meandering than Rogen’s similarly themed “Superbad,” but the leads are still engaging enough and convincing in their bond to provide us many moments of genuine hilarity throughout.
“Good Boys” is equally awkward, gangly, raunchy and painfully funny (when it's in the rearview), just like the age it’s covering.