Smells Like Tween Spirit

Unsupervised 12-year-olds learn stuff the hard way in Good Boys

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Good Boys
Opens Friday 16
3 out of 5

The Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg brand of comedy is always recognizable: crude, cheeky and a bit sentimental. The formula has been successful, but its time seems to be up. The blueprint they came up with 12 years ago has been copied to the point to saturation.

Good Boys seems like a last hurrah. Produced by Rogen, Goldberg and Jonah Hill, the comedy is basically a Superbad clone for tweens. Not that any 12-year-olds will get to see it (legally): the film has enough swearing to challenge Goodfellas, not to mention very liberal use of sex toys, if never as intended.

The movie’s also funny enough you forget there’s little originality involved.

Three sixth graders known as the Beanbag Boys find themselves unprepared for a tweener rite of passage: the unsupervised kissing party featuring Spin the Bottle. The boys — Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) — decide to err on the side of caution and overprepare.

Their zeal lands them in hot water with their neighbours, two teenage girls who think of themselves as wilier than they are. Most of the comedy comes from each side ineptly trying to one-up the other.

There’s no science to the film: kids interacting with adult things they don’t understand is always good for a laugh (and get a religious group or two riled-up). It’s the enterprise’s good nature that prevents it from feeling exploitative.

Good Boys gets quite a few thing rights about the tweener mind. As depicted in the film, these kids are well-adjusted and good-natured, but that doesn’t stop them from testing limits. At the same time, the boys exhibit the brainless self-righteousness of those who have assimilated rules without questioning them — mainly “don’t do drugs”.

The movie even flirts with poignancy as the Beanbag Boys come to the realization they may want different things: Max is girl-crazy, Thor likes the spotlight and Lucas just wants to be a kid a bit longer. I mean, who doesn’t.