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Good Boys •••

The Authors

Reel Heroes & Villains
Greg Smith & Scott T. Allison
Reel Heroes Volume 1

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Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Screenplay: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
Adventure/Comedy, Rated: R
Running Time: 89 minutes
Release Date: August 16, 2019

SPOILERS WITHIN!

 


Scott, it looks like “South Park” got a live action remake in the movie “Good Boys.”


scott
(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

Watching this movie was no walk in the park. Let’s recap.


We’re introduced to three young boys entering 6th grade. There’s going to be a party at one of the “cool kids’” house and Max (Jacob Tremblay) feel he must learn to french kiss so he can lock lips with his current crush Brixlee (Millie Davis). He enlists the help of his two best friends Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) who together comprise the self-titled “Beanbag Boys.”


Max’s dad leaves town and cautions Max not to play with his drone while he’s gone. Sure enough, the boys hatch an idea to use the drone to spy on some high school kids who look like they’re about to kiss. Unfortunately, their drone is captured by high schoolers Hannah and Lily (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis). Much of the plot centers on the beanbag boys safely retrieving the drone so that they can attend the kissing party.


Scott, it’s yet another incarnation of Superbad (see last month’s Book Smart) only this time, it’s for 6th-grade boys. The majority of the laughs center around the boys’ naivete surrounding sex toys and the misinterpretation of their purpose. In one case, the boys find Max’s father has a CPR doll and attempts to learn to kiss it only to find a hair in its mouth (wink wink). There are anal beads, two-headed dildos, and gimp masks all which fuel hilarious misappropriations.

The innocence of these youngsters is also accentuated by the fact that the young women the boys were spying on had purchased drugs (Molly) to take during a concert. There is a lot of Politically Correct rhetoric coming from the boys which they no doubt have ingested from school PSA videos. They warn the girls to “just say no” to drugs. And they are very concerned that they acquire proper consent from their kissing partners before the act.

I think the comparison to “South Park” is apt. We have three foul-mouthed boys trying to grow into young men while obstacles from a grown-up world interfere. The comedic dynamic in this film is the delegation of good-vs-bad angels on each of Max’s shoulders. Brusk young Thor (who is nick-named Sippy Cup because he refused to drink from a beer bottle) is constantly telling Max to take the immoral, easy path. While his other friend Lucas is the voice of rationality and morality, constantly reminding Max of the right thing to do. Max then becomes the fulcrum of the pack, making the decisions – for good or ill – that drive the threesome deeper and deeper into peril.


Greg, I like your comparisons to Superbad and South Park — two works o’fart that don’t appeal to me and really shouldn’t appeal to anyone over the age of, say, 13. My review of Good Boys is probably too harsh, but here goes:

About ten minutes into this movie, my commitment to doing this review with you was the only thing that kept me from walking out of the theater. Good Boys is one of those movies that thinks that children spewing out a 90-minutes stream of raunchy words qualifies as entertainment. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a prude, and in fact, I revel in raunch as much as the next guy. But to be effective and have any impact (either dramatic or comedic) the F-word should be used sparingly by both adults and kids. Isn’t that obvious? Apparently not to the makers of Good Boys.

Okay, here’s the good news: After wishing I was anywhere but in that movie theater, Good Boys started to improve slightly. Yes, the obscenities were still flying out of these kids’ mouths and the movie held firm to its commitment to dwell in the world of juvenile gutter. But at least a story was finally emerging about how 12-year-olds can help each other overcome the awkwardness of middle school. Our three heroes really do grow up and change in some heartfelt ways. It was almost enough to make up for the ridiculous excess of kiddie-cussing. Notice I said “almost”.


You’re right, Scott. The final moments of the film have our heroes discovering who they are independent of their safe home of “The Beanbag Boys.” It is a classic story of how a girl comes between buddies, and this one was a lot of fun for me. Sad to say, I am a big fan of “South Park,” so the 13-year-old in me loved this film. I also loved how the older Molly-taking high-school girls acted as mentors for our boys. Despite its over-the-top gross-out humor and foul language, I give this film 4 out of 5 Reels.

This is a true ensemble hero’s journey with all three boys wanting something and learning something. Max emerges as the “king of hearts” as (in the epilog) we see him experience breakups and romances in a cycle. Thor gives in to his true desire of being an actor and singer. And Lucas channels his strong moral compass into becoming a member of the school’s anti-bullying squad. They all wanted something, they all had missing inner qualities, and all learned valuable lessons. I give them 4 out of 5 Heroes.

As for messages: I think this is just the classic coming-of-age story that you have to be yourself at all costs. It’s a rose-colored message tinted with nostalgia. But at the end of the day, these boys commit to always being there for each other: “Once a Beanbag Boy, always a Beanbag boy.” They are earnest in that promise. But we know the reality. I give this message 3 out of 5 Message points.

Movie: Messages: Heroes:


Greg – You liked this movie? Shirley you jest. My already tenuous faith in humanity has been shattered.

Good Boys was hard for me to watch, mostly because it was hard for me to listen to. I can handle obscenities; after all, Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies and the word ‘fuck’ is uttered 506 times in it. I can even handle children spewing out an occasional filthy word or phrase in a movie. But come on. For 90 minutes these kids try to shock us over and over again with their vile vocabulary and it grew old after minute 2 or 3. I will admit a nice story about being true to yourself did emerge and for that reason, I can give this movie 2 Reels out of 5.

I hate to admit it, but our three pre-teen heroes do indeed traverse the hero’s journey. Max is our lead hero and he must learn how to kiss before attending the party, and he must retrieve his dad’s drone to make that happen. Our three heroes grow up a bit as a result of learning from the school of hard knocks. This movie could have been poignant if it weren’t saturated with filthy language. I give our heroes 3 Hero points out of 5.

The message of this film is one we’ve encountered many times this year in the movies. It’s the message of the importance of being our most authentic, true selves. Our heroes suffer the most when they are trying to be someone they are not. It’s only when they allow themselves to be who they truly are – not who someone else wants them to be – that they begin to flourish. This message also deserves 3 points out of 5.

Movie: Messages: Heroes:


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