It is ironic that one of the sweetest and most sincere movies of 2019 is also one of the filthiest. And like that classic marketing ploy from the 1970s, the memo for Good Boys hammered home the fact that “It’s not a kids movie… It’s not a kids movie…. It’s not a kids movie!”
Jacob Tremblay (Room), Keith Williams (The Last Man on Earth) and Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire) star as the awkward, hapless mates whose afternoon goes from bad to worse when a regular day descends into full-blown (US) R-rated chaos. STACK recently spoke to Williams and Noon about the film and kicked things off by asking about their parents’ initial reaction to the script.
“I was with my mom at the time, shooting a Christmas special for Gwen Stefani.” recalls Williams. “Mom got the email and showed it to me. Both of our eyes popped out of our heads when we opened it. We were like ‘what in the world?’” And contrary to the expected reaction from a parent, Williams admits that it was to the contrary. “I was the one a little hesitant about saying all the extra bad words and stuff, because I was raised to not curse at all, but my mom told me that it was fine and it was just acting.”
Likewise, Noon’s first encounter with the script was alongside his mother. “Me and my mom read the script together and her initial reaction was that her jaw dropped. She was trying not to laugh, which was hard for her because she’s a teacher and she’s all about not cursing at all, so it was really funny. She had a lot of reservations at first and was like, ‘Ah no, we aren’t not going to say that and we’ll change this to that,’” he recalls with a giggle.
In a loose reimagining of Seth Rogan’s cult comedy hit Superbad, Good Boys shifts its focus onto three tweenage kids who find themselves caught up in world of vulgarity and adults-only hijinks. In a desperate attempt to replace one of their father’s expensive drones, which they lost while spying on hot chicks, the three lads race against time to reach the mall before closing time and inadvertently end up with a bagful of drugs and a bucketload of problems.
Good Boys is a provocative film to say the least, but it’s not without its charm and an overwhelming sense of goodness. Perhaps its greatest strength is the innocence of the three boys, and despite the profanity spewing out of their mouths, their naivety to situations creates a heartwarming story-arc. Noon admits to that naivety when recalling the abundance of off-colour humour: “It’s all still a mystery to me.”
Williams adds, “We were all really young while shooting and we didn’t know most of what we were saying. We were just told how to say it, and we didn’t really ask questions.”
Noon continues with a laugh, “The director on set and everyone were very professional about it. And if we had questions about any of the adult stuff they kept saying, ‘Ask your mom’.”
Of course Good Boys is part of a long lineage of R-rated comedies that see clueless teenage noobs up to their necks in drugs, girls and all manner of frivolity. Like Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds and American Pie before it, Rogen’s trademark humour sets the film apart thanks to his ability to instill benevolence in outrageous situations.
Noon recalls watching other films in preparation for Good Boys. “Me and Keith watched Superbad. We had a cool sleepover at my apartment in Vancouver and we had permission to watch that one. That was such a fun night for us because we could really compare and relate to our characters. And then we had a sleepover at Jacob’s house and it was so much fun.”
Jacob Tremblay is, of course, the highest profiled actor in the film, having earned accolades for his work in films like Room and Wonder. One might assume that his Hollywood status would be intimidating, to say the least, but both Williams and Noon thought nothing of it.
Noon reflects on Tremblay’s influence with affection: “Working with Jacob was honestly a blessing in disguise because with him and Keith being such high skilled actors, I was kind of the newbie on set. I hadn’t done anything for a few years and they were always helping and giving me pointers. Jacob taught me a lot about improvising, and Keith taught me facial expressions because that’s what he specialises in. And so combining both of their strengths has made me a better actor and I can take those skills with me on future work. I do consider Jacob and Keith to be amongst my closest friends.”
With Good Boys taking the world by storm, it’s heartening to know that these two young stars take their newfound fame in their stride. When talking with them, it’s clear that they’re surrounded by positive influences and maintain a level of normality in their lives.
Noon shared an amusing story that happened only hours before we spoke: “Tonight I had a wrestling meet and I kind of got swarmed by the other team. And they were saying, ‘Yo Sippy Cup’ and ‘Hey Brady, can I get a picture?’ The entire team ran up to me after the meet, telling me how funny the movie was and stuff. So yeah, it’s kind of crazy because they’re not the first team to do that to me. It’s weird when some of them seem to be scared to talk to me and stuff, because I’m just a little kid from New Jersey. So it’s pretty strange.”
It is apparent that those positive themes and the overriding sense of decency in Good Boys transcends the screen, and for all of the vulgarity and puerile hilarity that make it one of the best comedies of the year, its young stars remain grounded and entirely gracious.
Good Boys is yours to own on DVD & Blu-ray from December 18