August 12, 2019
The new film’s adult subject matter reflects a confusion about what tween movies should be about
Does Seth Rogens Good Boys take kids’ comedy too far?
Good Boys’ trailer begins with producer Seth Rogen explaining to its trio of 12-year-old heroes that they are actually too young to watch their own movie. “That’s fucked up,” says one of the kids (which kind of sets the tone for the whole movie). Rogen replies: “You can say that, but you can’t watch yourself say that: that’s fucked up. Welcome to Hollywood.”
Children acting in movies they’re too young to watch is not exactly new. You think back to Jodie Foster playing a child prostitute in Taxi Driver, aged 14, or Linda Blair in The Exorcist and you wonder whether their portrayal of lost innocence was down to real lives lived too fast or just good acting. But it feels more commonplace these days, in a landscape filled with child-centred horrors (It, Stranger Things), violent action movies (remember Kick-Ass?), serious trauma dramas (such as Room, whose star Jacob Tremblay is one of the trio in Good Boys), and now, junior raunch comedies. In Good Boys, our potty-mouthed sixth-graders naively encounter grownup stuff such as drugs, violence, online porn and sex toys. Are they swearing like troopers for comic effect, or is this just what it is like to be a 12-year-old now?
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