Film from the producers of "Superbad" tries to be both sweet and shocking

Coming-of-age comedies have really grown up in the past few years.

That includes my overall No. 1 movies from 2017 (“Lady Bird”), 2018 (“Eighth Grade”) and my favorite so far in 2019 (“Booksmart”). Those movies were all sweet, smart and made me hopeful for the future.

It’s a high bar, and “Good Boys” (from the producers of “Superbad” and “Sausage Party”) isn’t quite going for that level of elevation as a raunchy tween comedy. But when the heart isn’t as deep and the humor isn’t as funny, it’s hard not to compare.

Max (Jacob Tremblay of “Room”) is a 12-year-old who just got invited to his first kissing party. His excitement over the prospect of finally kissing his crush is overwhelmed by the terror over not knowing how to actually kiss a girl. So with his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams), Max sets out on a wild odyssey that involves using an expensive drone that belongs to Max’s dad (Will Forte). Hilarity (sort of) ensues.

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Director Gene Stupnitsky and his co-writer, Lee Eisenberg, center the movie around the best-friendship of the trio as they navigate a typical kid adventure with a heavy dose of raunchy humor. For starters, they seem to get a huge kick out of young kids dropping f-bombs, which is both accurate to how kids talk and also not exactly a fountain of smart comedy.

The young actors are game (particularly comedic standout Williams) as three earnestly good kids. When the adventure involves some Molly purchased by some older girls, the boys’ freakout level is practically an anti-drug commercial.

Juvenile laughs are had when the kids “arm” themselves with “weapons” that are actually parents’ sex toys (with a brief appearance from Stephen Merchant). But the laughs are too far between and too often cheap. Stupnitsky tries to be both sweet and shocking.

And I can’t really complain about how the plot wanders, but it seems they could have gone even more over-the-top for greater comedic potential.

It’s an R-rated comedy, so the tweens featured don’t really represent the target audience. Still, “Good Boys” does actually finish with its sweetest moments in a tribute to the kind of young friendships we think will last forever.