While Good Boys can be seen as a hilarious take on what Gen-Z boys may go through, it may come off as exploitative of children as an indie drama vying for an Oscar nomination.
|Screenplay By||Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky|
|Genre(s)||Comedy, Drama, Coming of Age|
|Good If You||
|Lucas||Keith L. Williams|
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Good Boys Plot Summary & Review
6th grade has just begun and the Bean Bag boys Max, Thor, and Lucas are coming to a crossroad. One which has Max going through puberty and interested in girls, Thor wanting to really commit to musical theater and as for Lucas? Well, he just wants to be a happy go lucky kid, and for the friends he has known forever not to split apart. Hence why, despite his misgivings about Max’s desperation to learn how to kiss, and the journey it drags them on, never mind Thor’s pursuit to seem cool, Lucas doesn’t quit. He complains, may feel like the friendship is being tested, but even after having his shoulder dislocated, buying drugs from a frat, and having more interaction with sex toys than a 12-year-old should, he hangs in there until a girl on Molly fulfills her promise on making him a grilled cheese sandwich.
In a way, watching Good Boys is like experiencing a mash-up of the adolescent films Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen are known for producing with a hint of South Park. Mostly in terms of gross-out humor, usually dealing with sex and genitals. But, where the South Park part comes in is that humor, which often is geared towards teens and young adults, having tweens deliver the comedic situations. Leading to awkward moments like Max kissing a sex doll and getting a pube in his mouth. If not the kids being exposed to, smelling, and giving away anal beads.
This is on top of Lucas getting high, a whole lot of cursing, and the kind of lying you may have done as a tween to seem cool.
How Is Speaks About Friendship
But, while we do get a heavy dose of comedy which sure as hell isn’t appropriate for kids, there is also depth too. Lucas, as an example, is dealing with his parents divorcing and with his friend group also breaking apart, it helps you understand why a good kid like him would go to the lengths he does. Oh, and why he freaks out, curses people out, and snitches on himself and his friends constantly. His life is in flux, and he doesn’t know what it means to have stability anymore.
Then with Thor, I would never say it is the dream of every kid to be popular, but at the very least they don’t want to be ostracized or seen as the weird kid. Especially with a nickname that haunts them for years. So, like with Lucas, you have to feel for the little guy since being teased is hard to deal with. Add in he is someone into musical theater, which means really putting yourself out there, and being vulnerable, and you can quickly understand why Thor goes to the lengths he does. Also why he is a bit strange since his parents don’t seem to lock up any of their late-night gear, gadgets, and toys.
Leaving us with Max. While him going through puberty is treated as a joke, I must admit I’m reminded of what Rowan Blanchard, mostly known for playing Riley on Girl Meets World said about puberty. Paraphrasing her words, she noted that what many adults don’t understand is that they have long forgotten the anxiety and heightened emotions which comes from doing something the first time. Also, it is a weird period in a kid’s life for you are seeking out who you are outside of your parent’s kid and their influence.
Which is all to say, as much as Max’s urges create many zany situations, you have to take note the fear of being a bad kisser is no different than Thor being scared of holding a negative nickname. Also, Max wanting to be with Brixlee, what would be his first girlfriend, is similar to Lucas wanting a consistent and stable source of love and affection. Yeah, in a different way, also from different people, but that need to feel wanted and that you have someone who truly likes you for you is immense.
Hence why, by the end of the film, as you question if the Bean Bag boys may make it with each being at a different stage of life, you may get teary-eyed. Be it from remembering the friends you lost, and might not have reconnected with, or just how you struggled to discover who you were and finding those who helped you get comfortable with coming to that decision.
On The Fence
Does This Qualify As Exploitation?
Okay, maybe calling Good Boys exploitative of children is a bit much. However, this does feel like it is really pushing the envelope. Which isn’t to say in a world where kids have to do school shooting drills, there may not be kids who curse this much, play with sex toys (while not knowing what they are – I should note), and are having kissing parties and drinking beer? Speaking for myself, when I was their age people were taking their parents’ vodka and mixing it with Snapple, kids were losing their virginity to people their age and doing really gross things that make me want to barf a bit.
Yet, with it being more than a decade since that, I don’t know if I’m just old now or out of touch? For, again, when we see kids go through a lot in shows like South Park, in movies like Taxi Driver, or even Tremblay’s past film Room, there is something different about it. South Park is animated, which takes that edge off, and while Tremblay’s character is the product of rape in Room, it’s a drama. Much less, a film which doesn’t make light of what happens at all.
So watching kids play with anal beads, and other sex gear, Max getting a pube in his mouth from kissing a sex doll, and with seeing them get into a fight with grown men, one of which gives Thor a black eye, there is the need to question if the only problem here is this being a live-action comedy? Much less, one released in theaters and not just another viral clip showing parents embarrass their kids in ways which will haunt them for the rest of their lives. So, is Good Boys really that bad or just a sign of where the zeitgeist is currently?
Good Boys Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) – Recommended
What you have to appreciate about Good Boys is it delivers in multiple ways. It is funny, touching, and it also makes you question as Generation Z comes of age, and Millennials have children, where is the culture going? Do we even realize how much it has changed since we were tweens and teens? And while it pushes you to be reflective while being a tad uncomfortable, how many comedies nowadays make you laugh, think, and a bit nostalgic?
Hence the positive label, and recommendation. Good Boys, like Superbad and many of the other films Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and/or Judd Apatow have been involved in, arguably speak for where American culture is at during that time. Whether we are talking about Gen Z being more open with their emotions, allegedly, and not as subject to toxic masculinity, or them, as shown by some characters, being a bit more fluid about their sexuality. Good Boys may seem like it uses the age of the characters in an exploitative way sometimes, but what it might actually be doing is showing us the world we created for the next generation – for better or worse.