I’ll lead with the fact that I’m a sucker for coming of age films that incorporate a heavy dosage of filthy language and situations that teens (or tweens in this films) shouldn’t be involved in. The film opens with a young boy dealing with an erection and his father walking in on him. It’s a funny and sweet moment that feels all too familiar (American Pie) but the innocence played here by the 6th grade boy adds to the humorous situation. The film quickly introduces us to our unlikely of heroes, three best friends, Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon), and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) also know as the Bean Bag Boys.
The film is produced by Superbad alum, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, which is an important note to make as the film feels very much like those same characters but in their middle school years. Where as those were foul mouthed pros, here their vocabulary is more like the first time that they learned how to say “Fuck” and they use it often. Those boys had already made the decisions that this film is ask of these boys.
The set-up for the misadventures is simple. The boys are invited to a kissing party at one of the popular boys house and rather than Googling how to kiss they use a drone to spy on their neighbors, two older teens (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis) who inadvertently steal the drone. They try to retrieve said drone and by way of their poor luck, it is smashed to pieces in the street. Now they are pressed for time, they have to get a new one and quick before Max’s father returns home. This sets the boys on an adventure that in one day will cause significant growth for them as friends and young adults.
What works in the film is the young adult innocence which we watch dissolve as they make increasingly more difficult and more adult decisions. With each decision the boys are forced to make, it’s pushes them further away from one another and their friendship in serious jeopardy. What might have felt like lazy or crude writing instead comes across as genuine as the young cast play everything with a since of honest curiosity.
The film is an younger exploration of what friendship means and how our decisions lead us into unique paths we never expected. Taking us back to a time where we weren’t so sure about our own vocabulary or what it meant to be cool. Here middle school isn’t presented as being terrifying in the traditional ways instead it’s presented as the first of many crossroads in a young persons life.
While they make plenty of poor decisions along the way, these boys are still good and very funny. I can’t help but see these boys as the precursor to high school films like American Pie and Superbad.