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New Kids on the Block

The hysterical Good Boys is like Superbad for the junior-high set

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You have to have big balls to release a movie like Good Boys in today's PC environment.

Kids swear like sailors, unknowingly sniff anal beads and run across busy highways without looking both ways in this movie. It might just be the winner for child-delivered profanity when it comes to cinema, easily topping the likes of the original The Bad News Bears. Actually, I'll delete the word might. It's the winner for sure.

Sweetheart Jacob Tremblay, the cute little dude from Room, goes full stank-mouth mode as Max. He's a member of the Beanbag Boys (they call themselves that because, well, they have beanbags), along with pals Lucas (scene stealing Keith L. Williams) and Thor (wildly funny Brady Noon). Their junior-high social activities consist of bike rides and card games, but things are taken up a notch when they are invited to a party that will include a—gasp!—kissing game.

The Beanbag Boys get themselves into trouble involving the ruination of Max's dad's (Will Forte) drone, a predicament that involves a stash of Molly/Ecstasy pills and two older, meaner girls, Hannah and Lily (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis). The goal to reach the kissing party unscathed, and with a bottle of beer so that they look cool, is blocked by many tween drama obstacles.

This film lets you know it's not playing around instantly, with the Beanbag Boys unleashing a torrent of obscenities that lets you know that they've been familiar with these words for at least a couple of years despite their young ages, and they say them frequently. As a former adolescent I can attest to this reality: kids curse, and they love to curse. Deal with it.

Hearing kids talk like this (meaning, real kids) in an American movie is oddly refreshing. It's also laugh-out-loud funny to hear these words coming out of Tremblay's cherubic face. As the title of the movie implies, these are good boys, even though they curse like Samuel L. Jackson in a Tarantino movie. They have dirty mouths, but they are anti-drug and anti-bullying, so much so that the film actually belabors those points a little too much and too obviously at times.

It's no big surprise that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the men behind Superbad, had a hand in producing this. The plot is very similar, with Good Boys almost qualifying as a Superbad prequel or reboot. Three kids try to get to a party with alcohol in tow while cursing a lot. While Jonah Hill's Superbad kid kept getting hit by cars, Lucas also suffers grave, humorously depicted injuries along the way. It's the same movie. It's funny as all hell, but it's the same movie set in junior high rather than high school.

Director Gene Stupnitsky, making his feature debut, gets a gold star for getting kids to say this stuff with a straight face. (Lordy, there must've been a lot of takes.) Sometimes the film feels a bit hollow, as if its only reason for existence is to hear kids curse a lot. Still, hearing kids curse a lot is hilarious, and worth a night out to the cinema.

Tremblay, Williams and Noon get a lot of credit for making this all so much fun. Tremblay, who has the most serious acting chops of the trio, is a natural, and provides a great anchor for the madness. Williams is, at times, heartbreakingly sweet, especially when his character is dealing with the breakup of his family. Noon brings a pretty stellar singing voice to the proceedings, and its put to good use on a rousing Foreigner track.

The summer needed a big blast of funny stupidity, and Good Boys provides it. It's ripe for a sequel where these kids are freshmen in high school. I have to think that premise is going to get the greenlight here real soon. Maybe McLovin will make a cameo. ■

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