two stars out of four

Not long after co-writing the critically acclaimed and commercially successful “Superbad” in 2007, actor Seth Rogen set up a production company (Point Prey Pictures) with his childhood friend Evan Goldberg. Since that time the pair has churned out about a dozen features, some featuring Rogan as a performer and all of them containing sexually frank material targeted at a largely frat boy demographic.

These movies are not high art, nor are they intended as such, but they all make money and fill a certain audience demand. Along the way, Rogen and Goldberg have created their own little cottage industry. It’s yet another winning example of the righteous American free enterprise system hard at work.

The bulk of these are hard-“R”-rated movies that involve over-18 adults breaking laws, doing drugs, swearing like sailors while (mostly) talking about and (only occasionally) having sex. “Good Boys” takes a huge chance by doing almost all of these same things with three preteen lead male characters.

The movie shows these children (they call themselves tweens) surfing the Internet to watch porn, discovering various adult toys (but never knowing their actual intended use) in their parents’ bedrooms and dropping dozens if not hundreds of F-bombs along the way. They also come into possession of illegal prescription drugs but never take or sell them but do trade them for a drone which, fortunately, is not armed.

Let all of that information sink in for a minute.

“Good Boys” is going to generate a whole bunch of contentious and heated water cooler debate and will surely raise the ire of many parents across the land — and for good reason. Although technically potential audience members the same age as the child actors in the movie will need an accompanying parent to see the film, most will sidestep that easy-to-avoid roadblock and find a way to see it with friends their same age. That’s nothing new.

Preteens have been able to gain access to “R” rated movies without parental supervision since, well, forever. The rub here is, almost all of those movies featured adult characters doing bad and/or adult things, not children.

You don’t have to be uptight or a prude to think that a movie such as “Good Boys” is a bad idea on a multitude of fronts, even if played for laughs. There’s also a scene where the boys sell a used high-end sex doll to a grown man they meet online, whom they consider to be and refer to as a “pedophile.” Another scene shows one of the boys stealing alcohol and yet another where they run across a six-lane highway with heavy traffic. This brilliant move causes one of them to drop the alcohol and go back for it causing a multi-car pile-up.

Want more?

The parent of a child hosting a “kissing party” greets the boys and directs them to the basement where she admits she “has no idea what they’re doing down there.” At the party one of the boys gives a girl he’s smitten with a (again used) “necklace” which in actuality is a string of erotic, um … beads. Prior to this, the boys rob a frat house selling illegal drugs while brandishing a gun. It’s “just” a paint ball gun but it’s still a gun and it is in the hands of a child who fires it dozens of times during the commission of a crime.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you the adult have no intention whatsoever of even considering letting your child see this movie but might want to check it out on your own and you want to know, is it even funny? The answer depends on what you find to be humorous. Do the above scenarios and situations sound like they have the potential to make you laugh, even when played “light?”

If so, you might like it more than some. There are a couple (meaning two) lines (neither of them sex, drug or weapon-related jokes) which solidly hit their mark, much in the same way that a broken clock is correct twice a day.

Had the three leads in the story been college age or older burn-out types on the prowl for seedy forms of entertainment, the movie would have been, if not funnier, at least something somewhat easier to embrace. Here we have a movie portraying children doing stupid and illegal things even the most daring and shortsighted adult would never have even remotely contemplated.

This past Sunday, Universal Pictures decided – in the wake of the two recent domestic terrorist attacks — to cancel the Sept. 27 release of “The Hunt,” a movie where leftist “elites” hunt right wing “deplorables” for sport. Given the current hot bed political climate, that was probably a smart public relations move, but don’t be at all surprised if that film gets released sometime before Election Day 2020.

Universal’s choice to green light, produce and release “Good Boys” isn’t nearly as dangerous or controversial as “The Hunt,” but it comes close. Not only does it condone bad behavior on multiple fronts committed by preteens, it does so with a certain cheery and lighthearted blessing with little to no regard for potential ripples the release of such a suggestive movie might have down the road.