Why is “South Park” an animated series?
Couldn’t creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have made their crude and frequently violent show about prepubescent boys a live action series just as easily, if not cheaper?
The reason they don’t is simple: an animated overweight boy using expletives every other sentence while making sex jokes is funny because the animation separates the joke from reality.
“Good Boys,” a new live action comedy that tries to be one part “South Park” and two parts “Superbad,” isn’t really successful at either.
And it’s true, the first time audiences see three sixth grade boys look up “porb” on Google to see people kissing or use anal beads like nunchucks is decently funny.
The problem with “Good Boys” is that the longer this gimmick goes on, the less funny and more sad things get.
A comedy from the minds that brought such middling fodder as “Bad Teacher” and “Year One,” writer/director Gene Stupnitsky and co-writer Lee Eisenberg’s new film follows Max, Lucas and Thor – three outcast sixth graders calling themselves “the Bean Bag Boys.”
Through a typically ridiculous series of convoluted events, the trio must trade a medicine bottle filled with ecstasy for Max’s father’s drone helicopter that crashed into a neighbor’s yard in order to attend a “kissing party.”
What “Good Boys” has going for it is three likeable young stars, led by one of the best child actors in Hollywood today, Jacob Tremblay.
Best known for the 2015 Oscar-nominated drama “Room” and the 2017 family drama “Wonder,” Tremblay exudes a wholesome kindness that radiates off the screen. He brings this naturally endearing quality to Max that quickly fades away once he tries on S&M leather and the swear words start flying.
Brady Noon plays Thor evenly as the character’s bad boy exterior naturally clashes (for the sake of comedy) with his love of singing and musical theater.
The best performance of the trio is offered by Keith L. Williams as Lucas, the most strait-laced member whose parents are about to get a divorce.
Williams hits his punch lines hard knowing they’re intended for laughs, but this is rarely as overdone as it may seem.
The film’s supporting cast isn’t given much room to play with; “Saturday Night Live” alum Will Forte is here for show more than anything.
A surprisingly effective cameo from Stephen Merchant does bring one of the film’s few genuine laughs, however.
The crude premise of “Good Boys” isn’t exactly the film’s downfall. In better hands, this could be a largely entertaining affair.
But Stupnitsky and Eisenberg bring so little new to the table that “Good Boys” feels like an empty middle school rehash of “Superbad.”
That this film is being dropped in the middle of August while school starts back up should be a red flag. August is where underperforming movies go to die.
Same with the fact that one of the film’s producers, Seth Rogen of “Superbad” fame, is touted in marketing for the movie despite not appearing in it.
It’s the kind of comedy helped by watching the trailer as few times as possible. When all the jokes can be crammed into a two minute sizzle reel, you know you’re on the wrong track.
“Good Boys” is the kind of movie that will live on in frat houses eight years from now when the sixth graders this film is actually intended for will be old enough to drink while watching it.
It’s the third best film to be released this weekend behind the feel-good Bruce Springsteen- infused period musical flick “Blinded By The Light” and the better than it could have been Richard Linklater dramedy “Where’d You Go Bernadette.”
Save your money and watch this middle-school raunch fest on basic cable as it’s intended.