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(2019) (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams) (R)

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Comedy: Three sixth-grade boys get into various misadventures when they ditch school, wreck an expensive drone, come into possession of illegal drugs, and obsess over getting invited to their first "kissing party."
Max (JACOB TREMBLAY), Lucas (KEITH L. WILLIAMS), and Thor (BRADY NOON) are three sixth-graders who have been best friends since kindergarten, but now find themselves starting to drift apart. Max has a big interest in girls and crushes hard on a pretty classmate, Brixlee (MILLIE DAVIS). Lucas is reeling from the recent news that his parents (LIL REL HOWERY and RETTA) are getting a divorce and just wants life to stay the same as much as possible. Thor, meanwhile, is a budding musical theater kid who is tamping down his talents in order to hopefully fit in with the cool crowd.

Max gets invited to his first "kissing party" and freaks out when he learns that Brixlee will also be there. He doesn't know the first thing about kissing, and an initial Internet search only turns up pornography. So, he disobeys his father (WILL FORTE) and pilots his drone over the backyard of his teenage neighbor, Hannah (MOLLY GORDON), hoping to spy on her and her boyfriend, Benji (JOSH CARAS), making out. But he's too late. Benji and Hannah have already broken up, and Hannah and her best friend, Lily (MIDORI FRANCIS), capture Max's drone and refuse to give it back to Max.

When Thor steals Hannah's purse containing drugs, though, a day of debauchery follows in which the three boys run afoul of the relentless girls, a convenience store cop, eight lanes of freeway traffic, a frat house drug den, and more all while ditching school. As their misadventure gets more and more harrowing, the boys question whether life is pulling them in three different directions.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
And now we have a film where it falls on me, the reviewer for the people, to decide whether to pass moral judgment on it or a quality-of-filmmaking judgment. If we're going strictly off of morals, "Good Boys" fails and fails by a wide margin. It features three 12-year-old boys who curse and swear more than Sam Kinison and Andrew "Dice" Clay combined. They also drink beer, ditch school, surf Internet porn, and cause multi-car pile-ups by running across a highway during rush hour just to get to the mall. It's the film no 12-year-old should see. And no parent with a pre-teen child should see this as it will thoroughly wig you out for what's to come.

But, then again, there IS something really funny about putting little Jacob Tremblay of "Room" and "Wonder" in a gimp mask!

Is "Good Boy" funny? Oh, forgive me, yes! From a quality-of-filmmaking standpoint, the screenwriters and filmmakers know how to set up a joke, know how to tell the joke, and know how to make that joke and many others pay off again later in their film. All concerned know they are "getting away" with something here. So they keep the running time to a lean 90 minutes, execute some really funny big set pieces, and throw just enough "Wonder Years"-lite sentiment to soften the film's profane edge.

Tremblay stars with Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon as a trio of sixth-graders who have been best friends since kindergarten. But they each start to feel life changing. Their friendship is changing. Tremblay's Max is starting to feel his raging hormones and is crushing hard for a pretty classmate named Brixlee. Williams' Lucas just wants things to stay the same as much as possible, especially after getting hit with the news that his parents are divorcing. Noon's Thor, meanwhile, has musical-theater talents. But he's having to hide them in order to not get made fun of by the middle school "cool crowd."

But when Max crashes his dad's drone and runs afoul of two older teenage girls who hold the machine hostage in return for Thor to return their drugs, the three boys get into a wacky misadventure marked by a run-in with a convenience store cop, an alley sequence in which they have to pop Lucas' dislocated shoulder back into place, and a daunting trip to a fraternity house to score more drugs for the girls when they lose the original pills.

The film does a really good job of making these three kids both edgy and innocent. It gets what it's like to be a 12-year-old. You've discovered swearing, you know what sex is, and the Internet has thoroughly spoiled you on a lot of things you shouldn't know until a few years later. But at the same time, there are TONS of things you still don't know.

For instance, there is a great running bit when the three boys decide to arm themselves for their misadventure with weapons from Thor's home. But the weapons are actually his parents' secret stash of sex toys. So, throughout the flick, the boys use everything from a vibrator to anal beads to an S&M gag to assist in their hijinks.

The flawed decision-making is also a byproduct of their age and inexperience rather than bad screenwriting. There were a hundred different ways Max, Lucas, and Thor could have found out about how to kiss ahead of the kissing party they get invited to. They didn't need to fly Max's dad's drone into his neighbor's backyard to spy on her making out with her boyfriend. But that's what puts the flick into motion.

Criticisms? A few. Chiefly, there are times where the three lead kids say things that would almost certainly never come out of a 12-year-old's mouth. Quite a bit of dialogue sounds like it's 30-year-olds writing naughty things for 12-year-olds to say just because it'll be outrageous. But more times than not, this flick scores in the big laugh department. And, ultimately, it's got a pretty big heart, too. This is a funny, entertaining late-summer sleeper for anyone BUT the 12-year-olds starring in this flick! I rate it a 6.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed August 13, 2019 / Posted August 16, 2019

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