A pro story analyst reviews the 2019 film Good Boys.
Good Boys is the latest comedy from director Gene Stupnitsky and writer Lee Eisenberg, both known for their work as producers on The Office. Presenting a new take on the teen coming-of-age story, Good Boys is positioned to become the new Superbad for a younger generation.
So, how does Good Boys stack up in terms of storytelling?
Where Good Boys does well:
Good Boys absolutely nails the challenges, priorities, desires and perceived obstacles of the age group, as well as the ignorance of youth. It’s a coming-of-age story, but in a different way than a teen-to-adult coming-of-age premise. Just like a teenager learning some of the hard lessons of growing into adulthood, Good Boys dials the age back one step to show grade school-aged “kids” learning the hard lessons of growing into tweens and pre-teens. Along the way, they learn the realities of childhood, individuality and growing up.
Emotional Content and Theme
When it comes to digging out the potential heartfelt emotional content inherent in the concept and surfacing those ideas to the audience, Good Boys hits a home run. Few coming-of-age comedies that rely so heavily on gross-out antics dare to go so deep.
Tapping into Topical Sentiments
Good Boys ties in many darker modern social trends in a way that delivers funny social commentary. The film’s portrayal of bullying, child predators, “CPR” dolls (read: Real Girl Dolls), respect for women, fluid sexuality and male emotional bonds is always double-pronged, illustrating simultaneous viewpoints of childlike innocence and adult reality through the lens of humor.
Where could Good Boys have done better?
Good Boys is by no means a perfect movie. One of the areas it struggled with is…
Transitions Between Beats
While not necessarily the fault of the actors, it’s more likely that writing and editing are to blame here. Jumping off from the resolution of one beat and abruptly onto the next in the middle of a scene may require more creative grace than Good Boys can muster at times.
Quick pacing and vibrant dialogue help gloss over the fact, to be sure, but cannot cover up those blocky transitions.
Conviction in the Acting
Pinning the success of a feature-length major motion picture on the performance of young actors requires exceptional chops from its stars. Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith Williams perform with a surprising emotional range and conviction – and they absolutely deserve recognition for it. But sometimes the conviction isn’t completely there, making for more than a few hollow line deliveries. Again, expecting young actors to carry such a colossal undertaking is asking a lot, even for an especially talented actor like Tremblay.
The stars shine, but they aren’t able to make every moment count.
Conflicting Subject Matter vs. Target Audience
One of the major challenges of a movie like this is that, despite its seemingly broad appeal, it’s focus on issues of a young age group conflicts with its R-rating and obvious adult targeting. Although not a deal-breaker for the film, other lower-quality films have hit a brick wall in terms of box office success for the same reason. The Golden Compass comes to mind.
Rating aside, the film stands on its own.
While Good Boys isn’t likely to win an Oscar and it’s gross-out humor may be off-putting to some, this film is a prime candidate for under-appreciation – and potentially future ‘cult’ status. Although it may not be exactly this reviewer’s cup of tea, Good Boys offers a unique take on the classic teen coming-of-age story that’s bound to make its mark in comedy film history.