Let’s get random.
Good Boys is a new comedy from Seth Rogen (and many others) that fits nicely into the raunchy/stoner comedy genre he is known for. This time around, we follow three middle schoolers, Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon) as they rush to prepare for a kissing party. Just about everything goes wrong for our trio as they cause disasters all over town and try to outrun getting into trouble.
Do you think seeing 12-year-olds say fuck and get put into oddly problematic situations funny? Then you’ll probably like this movie. I never want to be so much of a film snob that I can’t appreciate a well-timed boner joke or laugh at a kid using sex toys as num-chuks. Anyone who reads this blog will get that I prefer the snobby arthouse films, so this one isn’t my normal jam, but this sort of brain candy is fun sometimes. As with a lot of these comedies the laughs do come, but not as frequently as we might wish.
The trio is likable enough, but we catch them in a transitional phase in their lives, and they are starting to grow apart. A little more time on who they are may have helped. However, the films biggest weakness is the awkward and heavy-handed attempts to force a moral to the story. Unfortunately, most of this occurs at the ending of the movie (the last third), so I imagine people are walking out with a bad taste in their mouths.
The other major flaw in the film is that the previews (at least the red band one) gives away about 80% of the funniest scenes. Aside from one with a paintball gun (I laughed too hard at this moment) a lot of what happens is already known. Aside from having the film lack any surprises, I think this also made the film largely forgettable. I can’t imagine this one having a fruitful second viewing.
In short, this film isn’t going to win any Oscars, but it will probably make you laugh. While we could have cut the unnecessary moral aspects of the film, I think we can understand why the studio felt these must be included. Once again, I think this was done to make sure the running time hit the sacred 90 minutes that makes it an official film according to studios. A 70-minute version with the unneeded stuff cut would make for a much tighter viewing.
I think folks who want to hate this film will find plenty of reasons to, but this film knows what it is and does not care. Is it hilarious? I’m not sure. I laughed several times, but several other moments I rolled my eyes. Whether one has a statistical advantage over the other is something I won’t ever bother computing, but for the first hour I thought it was funny. While we can easily gripe about the false nostalgia of youth, the somewhat clunky characters (especially the side characters), or other “filmier” things we would probably be wasting our time.
After we got out of the theater, I thought I had a lot more to say. The film doesn’t stay with you. If this were a drama, I would say that is a bad thing, but for a silly and raunchy comedy it is fine. Not the best of the year, but if you’re looking for an amusing 90 minutes, I think this one overall delivers.
I debated making this a separate rant (which do seem to get more precious clicks), but I’m just going to put it here. I see a lot of folks discussing how this film is too trashy or too stupid to have been made. I also see a lot of moralizing about how this film is somehow lowering the bar of what is considered good cinema.
2019 has been a dreadful year for truly moving films (for me anyway), but there are reasons why people would rather go to a CGI spectacle or a silly comedy than watch The Nightingale (which is the next film I will be seeing). The reason is twofold: one, some people just want escapist fantasy from the crushing grind of work life. Second, I think film snobs have crossed the point into becoming unwelcoming.
A few years ago, someone I worked with publicly chastised people who read Harry Potter because it wasn’t real literature. I am one of those weird people who actually enjoy Moby Dick as a narrative, but I also thought the Potter books were fine. Let people have their stupid stuff. My advice to students is to enjoy the Potter books (or whatever YA series moved them), enjoy your Marvel films (or whatever your popcorn flick jam of choice is), but also test yourselves with more challenging stuff. It can’t be that complicated of a notion that people can do both.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think Hollywood is hurting independent films by catering too much to the billion dollar franchises, but we sure as shit won’t get more people to watch arthouse films by sniffing our own farts and looking down on people who just want to watch something fun. Good Boys won’t be the type of film that makes a huge mark on our cultural identity—few films can, so we are just being silly in taking it so seriously.
Let people have their Good Boys, Harry Potter scarves, pumpkin-spice everything, and whatever else without being a jerk, and maybe when you invite them to Midsommar it won’t feel like a chore for them. (And yes, I see the irony in writing this on a blog that prides itself on crapping on film, but I try to do it with love).
Maybe I’m just crazy.