Release Date(s)2019 (November 12, 2019)
Studio(s)Good Universe/Point Grey Pictures/Universal Pictures (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C
Good Boys is a comedy that focuses on a demographic seldom explored before—youngsters between childhood and adolescence. Twelve-year-old Max (Jacob Tremblay, Room) has just been invited to his first kissing party and panics because he has no idea how to kiss. He and his best pals Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) decide to spy on a couple making out next door using his father’s drone, a device he’s forbidden to touch. Things don’t go as planned, the drone is destroyed and, desperate to replace it before Max’s father (Will Forte) gets home, the trio skip school and find themselves involved with stolen drugs, two angry high school girls (Molly Gordon, Midori Francis), and a house full of angry frat brothers.
Most of the gags in this fast-paced comedy derive from the kids’ innocence and lack of knowledge about the world of adults and life in general. They swear like truck drivers out of hearing range of their parents, which is funny only because of the way their dirty language accentuates nearly every sentence.
The three boys have grown up together, have christened themselves the Bean Bag Boys, and formed their own pint-sized suburban versions of The Three Musketeers—all for one and one for all.
They have distinct personalities. Max is the romantic in the group. He has eyes for classmate Brixlee (Millie Davis), but no idea how to get her to notice him. One of Brixlee’s friends serves as go-between to give Max a heads up that Brixlee just might be interested in him. But even going over to her table in the school cafeteria is hard. His hormones are urging him on, but he lacks the social skills and experience to know what comes next.
Thor’s passion is singing, but he’s shamed into not trying out for the school musical by a bully and attempts to salvage his reputation by breaking a beer-drinking record. He’s the brash, tough-talking, know-it-all in the group, though his advice is seldom accurate and often way off the mark.
Lucas is juggling a family crisis with his attempt to assist Max. Painfully truthful, he is incapable of keeping a secret when it involves something he shouldn’t be doing. Trying to act natural in a convenience store when he should be in school, he’s spooked by a cop who’s come in to buy coffee. He can’t help himself and blurts out “We’re skipping school.”
The casual way the kids talk about situations they encounter and objects they find elicits some of the film’s biggest laughs. Sex toys, in particular, are mined for a myriad of jokes. The purpose of a tampon is explained with assurance, even though the information is entirely wrong. These kids see the world with the eyes of innocence, though they want to appear more mature and knowledgeable. They are the proverbial fish out of water, adrift in the strange, exotic world of grown-ups.
Rated R for “strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout—all involving tweens,” Good Boys is briskly-paced and, at an hour and a half, doesn’t wear out its welcome. Episodic, with the drone plot woven throughout the boys’ misadventures, the film works because of the three leads, who are terrific and particularly admirable because they are the very age of their characters—perfectly conveying the puzzlement, fear, exhilaration, and sadness of kids that age. Though the situations are exaggerated for comic effect, director Gene Stupnitsky nicely captures the camaraderie of pre-teen kids who look to each other to explain the perplexing peculiarities of life.
The Blu-ray release, featuring 1080p High Definition resolution, is presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The overall color palette is bright, with lots of sunny exteriors in playgrounds, a skateboard park, a school yard, and a wooded area. Interior lighting of the kids’ homes is natural indoor lighting. There are impressive overhead and street-level tracking shots of the boys on their bicycles. When Hannah and Lily chase the boys, quick cuts enhance the excitement. For Thor’s stage performance, a shimmering curtain reflects the bright stage lights, and the party scene after Thor’s show is set at night with strands of overhead bulbs providing illumination.
The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-High Definition Master Audio. Spanish and French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround tracks are also available. Subtitles include Spanish, French, and English for the hearing impaired. Dialogue is consistently clear and distinct. The young actors deliver their dialogue to maximize the gags without overplaying it, and all of the jokes land with perfect timing. Lyle Workman’s score punctuates funny scenes, maintaining the light tone of the film. Many pop songs are spread throughout to underscore the action and enhance the laughter, including Jungle Fever (The Chakachas), Run the Game (JF), Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe (Barry White), No Time to Burn (The High Decibels), and Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves).
Bonus materials on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include an audio commentary, an unrated alternate ending, unrated deleted scenes, 6 brief behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a gag reel. A Digital Copy code on a paper insert is included in the package.
Audio Commentary – The feature-length commentary by co-writer/director Gene Stupnitsky and co-writer/producer Lee Eisenberg is surprisingly shallow. Mostly, they narrate scenes as they unfold. There are many dead spots, in which background information could have been provided. The two men discuss the extensive casting process, singling out Brady Noon (Thor), who was cast close to the beginning of filming. Improvisation helped to fine-tune the dialogue and maximize laughs. For the R-rated content, “Time was taken to protect the kids by not letting them know anything more than they had to” for their scenes. The camera was placed from the kids’ point of view as much as possible.
Boys For Real – Stupnitsky and Eisenberg discuss the casting process, in which more than 300 boys were auditioned. Jacob Tremblay was the only professional child actor of the three principals. Keith L. Williams was cast because he made the director and producers laugh and there was a “sass to him.” Brady Noon was incredibly funny, particularly with the X-rated language. About 100 kids read a single line with profanity, but only Brady aced it and was hired. Each of the child actors speak about the others as behind-the-scenes footage is shown.
Welcome to Vancouver – This is the home town of Jacob Tremblay who, the producers note, is treated like royalty there. The producers checked out 15 schools in Vancouver before selecting the very one that Jacob Tremblay attends. Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams discuss discovering and falling in love with a Canadian favorite: poutine.
A Fine Line – The dialogue contains a good deal of profanity and discussion of adult sexual terms the young actors didn’t understand. That’s a big part of the humor. If the actors asked what something meant, they were told to ask their moms. Jacob’s father had to set strict rules about his son’s use of profanity: “As soon as they call cut, no more!” The producers observe, “There’s money in profanity.”
Ask Your Parents – The filmmakers had a lot of discussion about the degree of “insanity.” The boys were curious and wanted to know what certain sex toys were or what certain colloquial sex terms meant. They always referred to their parents for explanations. The young actors loved the frat house scene, which features a paintball fight and Thor fighting a frat brother.
Bad Girls – Midori Francis (Lily) and Molly Gordon (Hannah) discuss their roles, and director Stupnitsky notes that the boys’ innocence is “bounced off the teenage girl characters.” Scenes from the film are intercut with on-set interviews.
Guest Stars – The following established actors were cast in the adult roles: Will Forte (Max’s Dad), Stephen Merchant (Claude), Sam Richardson (Officer Sacks), Michaela Watkins (Saleswoman), and Lil Rel Howery (Lucas’ Dad).
Deleted Scenes – Twelve scenes cut from the original release are included:
- Turtle vs. Tortoise
- Benji Don’t Like That
- Customer Service
- Ball Pit Shenanigans
- Tracking Molly
- Stealing a Glance
- Upsell Fail
- Max Explodes
- Best Friends
- Traffic Jam
- First Kiss Heartbreak
Unrated Alternate Ending – Max, Lucas, and Thor reunite at Thor’s show. As the camera pulls back, the boys continue their discussion and interpretation of strange-sounding sex terminology.
Gag Reel – Actors blow lines and crack up at unexpected slip-ups during filming. During one take, a picture falls off the wall.
– Dennis Seuling