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Coming of age comedies have been filling the 2019 movie schedule so far. Following Eighth Grade and Booksmart, Good Boys is the story of three 12-years-old boys who are invited to their very first “kissing party”. Feeling woefully unprepared, they spend the day trying to learn how to kiss in time for the party. This leads to more than a few crazy incidents involving an expensive sex doll and a broken drone. Whilst this film is certainly sweet and charming, it is neither particularly original or funny.
This film is much softer and charming than the advertising suggests. What appeared to be a raunchy and offensive comedy turns out to be quite a sweet tale about three innocent, “good”, twelve year old boys. We are constantly reminded of the naivety of the three leads, such as near the beginning, when the word “kissing” is accompanied by a dramatic piece of music, emphasising the enormity of the act in the eyes of these young boys. Their definition of the word “nymphomaniac” is wrong but you can see how they are mistaken, which is cute. They threaten the shopkeeper who sold the drone with “zombies”- of course they do! The three leads are adorable and really likeable; the casting director has done a great job of finding young actors who do not grate or annoy. The sweetness of this film will certainly leave a smile on your face.
However, this is supposed to be a comedy; in this regard, Good Boys is a mixed bag. A lot of the “humour” comes from the juxtaposition of the innocence of the three leads and the raunchy items they come across, such as the sex doll. Some of the jokes land and do make one laugh hard. For every Stephen Merchant cameo or the good boys’ response to porn- “is this what happens when you get a step mum?” is a hilarious line within the context of the film- there are equally many jokes that just feel lazy. Just getting twelve year olds to say and rude things or talk about drugs is not enough to make the audience burst with laughter. This sweet film is like a box of Celebrations. Yes, there are some Maltesers in there, but there are some Bountys too.
This film suffers from a lack of originality too. All the way through the feeling of familiarity, that sense one has seen this before, just cannot be shaken off. The drone belongs to Max’s Dad. When it is broken, it carries the same significance as Cameron crashing his Dad’s car in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The film is set in one day and about three boys preparing for a party, much like the film advertisers want us to associate with Good Boys: Superbad. Max getting nearly getting caught masturbating comes straight from an episode of The Inbetweeners. The trope of being called a “dork” for having a passion or caring about school was recently subverted in Booksmart earlier this year; sadly, this film chooses not to subvert this trope, relying on it heavily early on in the film. Borrowing from previous movies is not a problem if one does something new and exciting with it. Unfortunately, this film just uses these same tropes, and does not do it nearly as well as the comedies being copied.
This is a serviceable film. It will make you smile with its well-cast, adorable leads. Some of the jokes do land too, and will make you laugh in places. However, it lacks originality, and, too frequently, the jokes fall flat. Watching this film, you are constantly left feeling like you have seen this all before, and that you have seen it done better.