Greg Mottola’s Superbad is one spin-off away from me reluctantly calling it influential. Hollywood and its American independent counterparts already gave audiences Booksmart, an excellent portrayal of young female friendship. This year, we have a second example resembling that movie from 2007, this time about boys in middle school. This movie, Good Boys, does have Superbad‘s Seth Rogen as one of its producers. That explains this copycat, if not many more to follow. And sure, there’s a flaw or two in this new iteration, but it’s decent enough to surpass the original.
Good Boys is about a lot of things, but let us start with its core three characters. Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon), and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) are going to a party. That party happens to involve kissing, which is great, except that they know nothing about that innocent act. Learning about it means they have to spy on the older girls (Molly Gordon, Midori Francis) in their neighborhood who definitely know how to kiss.
That spying involves an expensive drone, which the girls eventually catch and keep away from the boys. To negotiate the return of said drone, the boys manage to steal the girls’ stash of Molly. The movie, then, involves how both parties are going to get what they want. In doing so, the boys also learn a lot of things about their increasingly complex friendship. They’re friends for life, but will one day full of adventures keep them friends or tear them apart?
Their hijinks eventually involve the destruction of said expensive drone and the attempts to replace the thing. Replacing the drone takes a lot of steps, some of which will make most audiences laugh. One of the better steps involve them gouging hundreds of dollars from a hopeless nerd (Stephen Merchant). Another involves crossing a highway on foot, which I’ll give them credit for just for its audacity.
A significant portion of the jokes here are about the boys’ inflated misunderstanding of drug culture. And those jokes fall under the bracket of a premise that these children don’t understand their world. Some punchlines involve these kids mixing up words involving drugs and – gasping at the thought – sexual acts. I know this is a comedy. But I don’t remember myself and other tweens being as stupid as the writers and directors Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg think they are.
That said the movie becomes tolerable when it returns to its set pieces both large and outlandish. One involve them going to a frat house with tiki torches and guys with sordid criminal charges. They’re there to get more drugs, but they somehow end up shooting everyone with a paintball gun. Watching that scene is the only way to discover how gratifying it is to watch those frat boys go down. In doing so, they redeem themselves and show us that they’re good boys. And watching their adventures makes for a fun time.
Good Boys comes out on August 15th in a theatre near you.