I can’t remember seeing a film about three 12-year old boys propelling toward puberty with such furious alacrity. Good Boys is not a film for good (or even bad) boys. In fact, the three smashing actors who play the lead can’t watch Good Boys. It’s an adult film featuring kids…does that make any sense to you? It will, once you see what the director Gene Stupinsky has attempted, and very largely, succeeded in doing.
Outwardly Good Boys seems like a puerile trying-hard-to-be-funny-and-cute film about adolescent postures. You know, Chala Babloo porn dekhne…. The film opens with Tremblay (the wunderkind from Room and The Death & Life Of John B Donovan) checking out his father’s computer and …well, using the bed mattress for purposes other than sleep.
As Son cringes, Dad barges in and smiles proudly, “I still remember the day we brought you from the hospital. And now my son is old enough to masturbate.”
I thought the film would take off into the juvenile American Pie scenario. But the supremely reined-in screenplay succeeds in being risqué warm and funny without getting gross. This is a miracle, considering the kind of ugh language the three little heroes use just to impress one another. Hats off to the real-life parents who have allowed their children to do a film where they encounter adult situations at a time when they should be looking at breasts purely as mother’s milk.
The hilarity which tumbles out in abundance often emanates from the trio’s incomprehension of adult language. For example, when a teenage girl accuses the boys of ‘misogyny’ they firmly deny the charge without knowing what it means. Elsewhere they accuse a bewildered man of being a ‘pedophile’ and when Max (Tremblay) wants a cop to rescue him from a pursuant girl, he screams she is his babysitter who was touching his penis.
The film uses dialogue to develop the three protagonists’ worldview as the plot progresses.
Brilliantly shot, with many memorable montages of the boys’ adventures merging effortlessly into a sea of confusing emotions from amusement, curiosity to bewilderment, Good Boys is not an easy film to like. Not when three cherubic angelic kids talk dirty and look beyond their keenness to grow up. They are just children making their way through a world they barely understand.
All three young actors are smashingly engaging, with Keith L Williams (as the righteous one in the trio) and Brady Noon (as the gentle sensitive one in the group who thwarts his singing aspirations to stop the schoolboys from ragging him as a sissy) matching up with and often outdoing the tried and tested Tremblay.
Tremblay’s Max is at an age where he is getting curious about girls and sex. His two friends aren’t yet ready to take that plunge. And therein lies the conundrum of the libido that Good Boys doesn’t aim to solve. But it does take a nice stinging swipe at the mysterious maneuverings of the mojo.
Starring Jacob Tremblay, Keith L Williams, Brady Noon
Directed by Gene Stupnitsky
Rating:*** ½ (3 and a half stars)