★★

Rookie director Gene Stupnitsky takes a shot at this coming-of-age comedy, and mostly falls short in his effort.  There is a point in Good Boys when everything comes together and the film starts to show some real heart, but unfortunately, this moment comes entirely too late, and the movie fails to entertain throughout. The film looks good and paces fine, but the script (which Stupnitsky co-wrote) and chemistry just seemed to be off. Sixth grade was a weird time for most of us: new friends, new school, and everything else that comes with being twelve years old, but Good Boys never really captures the humor behind growing up, resulting in an end product that struggles to connect through comedy and emotion.

Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon), are the best of friends, and refer to themselves as the Bean Bag Boys. As they make the big leap from fifth to sixth grade, the trio begins to navigate their way around bullies, popular kids, and girls. When they get invited to a “kissing” party, the group tries to learn how to kiss, and get in a little trouble along the way.

The tools are here for a great film, but it never quite reaches its full potential.  It’s easy to connect with these typical coming of age tales and the audience has a higher chance of making an emotional attachment based on nostalgia and endearment. But that is not the case here, whether it’s the writing or the chemistry between the cast, nothing really clicks for the majority of the film. On top of that, most of Good Boys is just simply not funny, completely relying on shock comedy (little kids swearing and discovering sex toys). The humor gets lazy and repetitive quick. The overall aesthetic of the movie is actually pretty good, Stupnitsky seemed to stick to a vision and follow through. Where he fails in his conviction, as the audience can almost see the indecisiveness playing out on screen. Does the movie want to be a raunchy comedy, a heartfelt tale about growing up, or just a mindless escape that can provide a few laughs? All of these concepts are prevalent, but nothing is done exceedingly well.

Good Boys’ biggest failure is tied up in its lazy writing and uninspiring story. Even though the plot culminates towards a decent ending, the journey is much too repetitive and boring. That is not to say that Good Boys is completely terrible, there are a few laughs to be had throughout; watching Jacob Tremblay acting like a “bad ass” is a good dose of comedy. It’s just hard to shake the feeling that this seems like a missed opportunity. It is worth a watch if you have any nostalgia left for those awkward middle school years, but don’t expect a gut-busting comedy for the ages.