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'Good Boys' review: Not funny, downright distasteful

Lucas (Keith L. Williams), left, Max (Jacob Tremblay)

Lucas (Keith L. Williams), left, Max (Jacob Tremblay) and Thor (Brady Noon) in "Good Boys."  Photo Credit: Universal pictures/Ed Araquel

PLOT Three sixth-graders try to make their way to a cool party.

CAST Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, Keith L. Williams

RATED R (strong language, vulgar humor)

LENGTH 1:29

BOTTOM LINE Kids say the crassest things! But it's not enough to sustain a whole movie.

Remember "The Bad News Bears," Michael Ritchie's 1976 comedy about a low-class Little League team? The kids cursed, spat, drank and smoked, all shocking stuff for audiences accustomed to the usual cloying Hollywood moppets. The movie was uproarious at the time, mainly because it dared to reveal children for the playground savages they really were.

"Good Boys," Gene Stupnitsky's comedy about three sixth-graders with foul mouths and dirty minds, badly wants to provoke that same combination of shock and guffaw. It mostly fails, and for good reason. For starters, this isn't 1976, and bad behavior in boys isn't always as charming as it once seemed. Changing social mores aside, here's another reason: The movie isn't funny. In fact, it's often downright distasteful.

"Good Boys" focuses on a trio of childhood friends standing on the brink of adolescence. Sensitive Max (Jacob Tremblay, "Room") is becoming interested in girls, particularly a lanky one named Brixlee (Millie Davis). Thor (Brady Noon) is a gifted singer but dreads being labeled a theater nerd. Lucas (a likable Keith L. Williams) serves as the trio's conscience: His inability to lie sometimes makes him a liability.

When the school's alpha-male announces he's having a "kissing party" and Brixlee will be there, our heroes seize their chance to climb the social ladder — and, in Max's case, get lucky.

What follows is a pint-size version of "Superbad" (Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who wrote that movie, coproduced this one). The plot hinges, very weakly, on Max's need to replace his dad's drone, which he broke while spying on the teenage hotties next door (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis). Unfortunately, the girls are holding the drone ransom. Their demand: a bottle of Molly — you might know it as MDMA or Ecstasy — which can only be purchased from a scuzzy frat boy (Josh Caras).

Are you wondering what kind of people would coax children into buying drugs? Or are you just wondering what kind of movie would find that funny? "Good Boys" also involves several skeevy jokes about a sex doll owned by Thor's parents, so there's your answer. (It's written by Stupnitsky with Lee Eisenberg, both of "Bad Teacher.")

Ultimately, "Good Boys" doesn't have much to say for itself besides an expletive, which the young actors are made to throw around for maximum snicker-potential. That novelty wears off fast. Here's a suggestion to "Good Boys:" Grow up.

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