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What the Critics Think About Good Boys

R-rated flick manages to be both sweet and funny
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2019 11:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – A trio of innocent sixth-graders (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon) have a lot to learn before they attend their first kissing party in Good Boys. The R-rated flick from writers of The Office, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky—the latter also directing—and producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg has a 80% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with most acknowledging frequent laughs. Four takes:

  • "Something of a middle-school version of the 2007 Superbad," Good Boys
    "isn't for kids–it's merely about them, and it captures the essence of being young and mystified and just too embarrassed to ask anyone about all the things you just don't have a clue about." And "mostly … it's more funny and charming than it is raunchy," writes Stephanie Zacharek at Time.
  • Peter Bradshaw describes "a genuinely sad and insightful moment" as well as "massive laughs, a huge Stephen Merchant cameo and the most impressive school play on film" at the Guardian. Overall, Good Boys is "a bad-taste kids' adventure that welds the spirit of The Goonies and Stranger Things with Superbad and Booksmart," he writes, giving the film four stars out of five.

  • Ben Travis was won over despite the "shaggy-dog plot." "If the idea of naive, inquisitive pre-teens dropping F-bombs and boastfully misusing sexual terminology raises a smile, there's plenty to enjoy in this largely sweet, often funny" film, he writes at Empire, acknowledging "the surprising level of character development" and "a well-handled set-piece involving a paintball massacre in a frat house."
  • But Manohla Dargis calls out the moviemakers as "bullies." The innocence of children "is grist for a feature-length joke" that "banks on your cruelty," she writes at the New York Times. Rather than acknowledge "its meanness," the film "smother[s] it in the requisite late-act sentimental blather about friendship, family and so on," she adds. Still, Dargis gives credit to the lead child actors. With "unvarnished sincerity," they "show you the movie that might have been."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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