good boys
The boys in "Good Boys" are just trying their best. (Illustration by Nick Spearman, Savannah College of Art and Design)
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good boys

Does the film measure up to all the hype its name suggests?

The long-awaited, R-rated comedy “Good Boys,” finally came to theaters this August 16. Written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnistky and produced by Seth Rogen, “Good Boys” topped the charts as one the biggest premiers this year so far.

Receiving a healthy mix of both positive and negative reviews, “Good Boys” earned itself a solid 78% on rotten tomatoes. However, after so much speculation and a comparatively aggressive marketing strategy, is “Good Boys” everything the trailers promised it would be? Between the dynamic characters, gripping plot and wholesome message, we would say so.

“Good Boys” features three rough-and-tumble yet charmingly naïve middle school boys, Max, Lucas and Thor. The film follows these characters through the woes of growing up as they learn what that means for each of them individually.

The “cool kid” of the group, Max, is undoubtedly the ringleader, seen in how he pressures his counterparts to push their limits and stray from their comfort zones. The viewer will find that while Max is a free thinker, he is not immune to the desire to fit in. His comical attempts to conform to what is considered “cool” is both hilarious and relatable, the perfect mix for a strong main character.

Next up is Lucas, the sheltered and adorably dorky friend of the group. Between his parents getting divorced and navigating middle school milestones, Lucas has a lot on his plate. Despite being a fairly reserved kid, Max forces him into several unbearably uncomfortable situations. With room to grow and his heart set in the right place, it’s impossible not to love Lucas.

Last but not least, we have Thor. A talented theatre kid, Thor is mercilessly bullied for his love of music and dance. As a result, he tries his best to fit in with the cool kids instead of following his dreams. The audience can easily empathize once they get past his deceivingly rough exterior, making the third lead of the movie a fan favorite.

“Good Boys” is a “Superbad”-esque odyssey full of raunchy jokes, illegal drugs and wholesome morals. Max, Lucas and Thor are in a hilarious scramble to reach the ultimate middle school milestone. Their objective is to learn how to kiss before their first middle school party without getting in trouble.

What sounds like a fairly simple plot quickly evolves into an R-rated comedy when our protagonists embark on a series of misadventures in order to save their butts and their reputations.

When the trio receives an invitation to a kissing party, the main conflict of the film arises: How do you kiss a girl? In an effort to solve the mystery, Max, Lucas and Thor attempt to teach themselves how to smooch so they can finally shed their dorky reps.

After trying out several ineffective methods, the boys decide the most logical course of action is to spy on two of their female neighbors with a drone owned by Max’s father. Instead of giving the kissing tutorial they were hoping for, the drone is captured and broken by the two high school girls. This spurs a whacky and wildly inappropriate journey that leaves these kids with some important lessons about life.

While trying to replace the drone, the three boys prematurely reach several grown-up milestones. Between watching porn, possessing hard drugs and fighting a house full of frat boys, the grownup personas our protagonists were trying to adopt seem irrelevant by the end of the film.

The most rewarding aspect of “Good Boys” comes near the end, when Max, Lucas and Thor each come to their own conclusions about what getting older actually means. The trio suffers from some growing pains but realize that not only is it important to embrace what makes you unique, but every person must walk their own path to adulthood.

Even with some minor issues, “Good Boys” more than accomplishes its ambitious goals. Getting in some good laughs, the audience no doubt leaves the theater with the remnants of hilarity in their minds and the warm glow of a coming-of-age story in their hearts.

Eisenberg and Stupnistky waste no time getting to the good stuff. They have you laughing from minute one and are consistent throughout the film. This observation seems to be interpreted in one of two ways. One: The film boasts a well-seasoned and timeless style of comedy. Two: The jokes are repetitive and become tired by the end of the second act.

The criticism toward “Good Boys” depend heavily on demographics but lean more toward the positive. Admittedly, the majority of the humor does seem to revolve around the delight felt when an adorable 12-year-old boy busts out the f-word. But this particular style of humor can be versatile as the characters are placed in outrageous positions.

Surprisingly, it has been noted that the writers of “Good Boys” paid special attention to character development. The three protagonists go through big life changes after experiencing life-changing events, a concept that seems to be common sense but is often omitted from comedy films.

The theme of friendship also adds a more wholesome and grounded layer to “Good Boys.” Because the audience can relate to the characters, the narrative is brought gently down to earth. A classic coming-of-age story will almost always pull at the heartstrings, thus adding a more emotional element to the film

Aside from the repetitive jokes and sometimes overly crude humor, the biggest complaint about the film is its somewhat abrupt ending. Some speculate that a sequel is being made, but with most loose ends tied up, it seems obvious that this is not the game plan.

Even though the ending left the audience wanting more, “Good Boys” overall is worth the watch. Grossing over $50 million so far, the numbers don’t lie. For an R-rated comedy, the film accomplishes something more than crude hilarity. Through stressing the importance of self-acceptance and unbreakable friendship, “Good Boys” sends out a more innocent message to not be afraid to be yourself.

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