When the first words out of young Jacob Tremblay’s mouth are “F—, yeah!” as he’s about to ogle pictures on his laptop, you know what you’re in for with Good Boys. The MPAA’s rating carries this impressively specific warning: “Rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout—all involving tweens.” All of which adds up to forbidden fruit for tweens who will undoubtedly try to find ways of seeing this comedy without their parents.
They could do a lot worse. Like the far superior Superbad, which this superficially resembles, the raunchy gags are counterbalanced by the sincere depiction of youthful friendship and innocence. Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon play a close-knit trio of sixth graders who are in a hurry to grow up and don’t realize how much they don’t know. The promise of a Friday night “kissing party” propels the story, with Tremblay eager to get close to a girl he’s been too nervous to approach at school.
The concerns of these kids aren’t so different from those of older teenagers we’ve seen many times onscreen. Their younger counterparts want to appear cool to their classmates, and can’t admit their ignorance of the things they’ve vaguely heard about, especially where sex is concerned.
Good Boys has some funny set-pieces as it proceeds along a fairly predictable path. Director and co-writer Gene Stupnitsky and his screenplay partner Lee Eisenberg collaborated on Bad Teacher and its TV spinoff, and share other successful comedy credits. They certainly know the audience they’re playing to. Their film was produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who wrote Superbad and created a milestone comedy feature. This one isn’t super or bad, but it treads on awfully familiar ground.