Remember when you used to think tampons were shoved up a woman’s anal cavity and used to prevent them from having babies? That’s still the reality for the Beanbag Boys, otherwise known as Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) in “Good Boys.”
This heart-warming but honest coming-of-age film succeeds with its comedic portrayal of male puberty and growing up, while also quietly commenting on more serious topics, such as peer pressure, the effects divorce has on children and bullying. In the 2019 adventure-comedy film “Good Boys,” the normally-sweet fifth-graders are now exceptionally “bad” sixth-graders — if by bad, the film’s writers mean gloriously naïve, adventurous and fueled by hormonal signals none of them can control.
The Beanbag Boys are a group of three sixth-graders who’ve been friends since birth. Max, Lucas and Thor do everything together: they sip beer together when pressured by the cool kids, they use the word “blowjob” as a verb (e.g., blowjobbed) and they practice kissing on Thor’s parents’ “CPR doll” (which is very obviously a sex doll) in order to prepare for the “kissing party” they’re invited to.
When the Beanbag Boys decide to play hooky for a day, a host of misfortunes occur, ranging from trouble opening child-proof pill bottles to popping Lucas’ shoulder back into place after he dislocates it. Throughout the film, the boys begin to drift apart and realize they’re on different paths as they navigate the rough sea of sixth grade. But Max, Lucas and Thor still manage to encourage each other in their own endeavors: chasing girls, standing in the way of bullies and theatrical pursuits, respectively.
The acting of the film’s stars, Tremblay, Williams and Noon, is perhaps the strongest feature “Good Boys.” The way in which Tremblay portrays pre-pubescent love is not only hilarious, but accurate. During one scene, Max stares on dreamily at his crush, Brixley, as she sneezes, then removes her retainer, slinging the saliva from it — a perfect example of how hormones make pre-teens see exactly what they want to see (e.g., a beautiful girl who can do no wrong).
However, the acting of the boys’ parents, particularly Max’s parents, who are portrayed by Will Forte and Mariessa Portelance is subpar. At one point, Forte’s character unconvincingly yells at Max and his facial expressions are all over the place. The scene feels melodramatic and forced, which only makes Tremblay’s acting all the more impressive.
The writing of “Good Boys” is solid and helps the film succeed as a coming-of-age comedy. The world the writers create seems wholly realistic for the story, save for a few slip-ups (e.g., two young women in high school trapping the Beanbag Boys in their house, and would two pre-teens really be able to pop another pre-teen’s shoulder back into place?).
The true gem of “Good Boys” — aside from the protagonists’ impressive acting — is the dialogue. The way Max, Lucas and Thor talk is completely representative for 12-year-old boys: the incessant cursing, the sheer naivety (“A nymphomaniac is someone who has sex on land and sea,” explains Max) and the classic middle-school-era phrases. “Good Boys” also tackles (albeit quietly) harder topics like divorce, as Lucas’ parents decide to split up. The dialogue hits on things many kids with divorced parents can identify with. All in all, the characters’ dialogue and banter will transport viewers right back to their junior high or middle school days, be that a pleasurable memory or a horrid one.
If the films “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Home Alone” had a love child, “Good Boys” might be it. With its laugh-’til-you-cry scenes and phenomenal acting from Tremblay, Williams and Noon, the film will have viewers declaring their loyalty (for life) to the Beanbag Boys.