Good Boys Movie Review

Yes, there’s an apt comparison to be made between Good Boys and 2007’s Superbad. This is kind of the middle school version of that movie from over a decade ago. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote the latter and they serve as producers here. Both involve young boys with their dirty minds trying to make it to a party that they view as potentially life changing (all events are greatly elevated in status at these ages).

What both get right is portraying the naïveté of their central characters. They may talk a good game in their minds, but there’s a whole lot about sex and drugs that they simply don’t understand yet. There’s inherent humor in that. Plenty of raunchy youth comedies are simply in it for the gross out humor. Another layer exists here and it’s one of sweetness to occasionally balance out the R rated aspects.

Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon) have just entered the wild world of middle school. Their curiosity level when it comes to girls, beer, and after school get togethers is in peak form. They christen themselves The Beanbag Boys since a good chunk of their lives are spent playing games and conversing while sitting on them. Max has a crush on a fellow student and might have an opportunity to make his move at a party that the cool kids invite him to. Thor is more interested in excelling at the school musical (an ill conceived pint size rendering of Rock of Ages), but struggles with that since the cool kids don’t think that’s cool. Lucas has a happy life that’s disrupted by parental divorce. He’s unlikely to ever be the cool kid and doesn’t quite know that yet.

The boys friendship is tested over a long day where they skip school, steal Max’s dad’s fancy drone, and turn into amateur ecstasy dealers so they don’t get in deeper trouble (it all makes sense in context). The laugh ratio here is pretty high as the trio must learn about kissing (the porn sites they go don’t help much) and dealing with college kids to score drugs.

Tremblay is the famous kid of the bunch as he’s known for his impressive serious work in Room and Wonder. He gets to drop some F bombs for the first time and he looks precocious doing it. I would say it’s Williams, however, that shines the brightest. The couple scenes with his splitting parents are comedic highlights. They display what makes Good Boys work best. It’s funny, but with an undertone of these kids learning the real world for the first time. Like Superbad, the central figures come to discover life will exist beyond their childhood friendships. It takes plenty of crass jokes to get them there, but those gags work more often than they don’t.

*** (out of four)

Good Boys Box Office Prediction

Good Boys is looking to become this summer’s Superbad when the raunchy comedy debuts next weekend. Marking the directorial debut of Gene Stupnitsky, the film centers on three preteens doing R rated shenanigans. The kids are played by Jacob Tremblay of Room and Wonder fame, as well as unknowns Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon. Costars include Will Forte, Molly Gordon, and Lil Rel Howery.

Keeping with the Superbad theme, Boys comes from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s production company, who wrote that 2007 hit. The pic was first unveiled in March at the South by Southwest Festival to positive reaction. The Rotten Tomatoes score is at 78%.

That said, the buzz for this doesn’t seem as high. The chance for this to over perform is there. Yet I’m skeptical this earns half of the $33 million achieved by Superbad, which premiered over the same late summer weekend a dozen years ago. In fact, its debut might be in the preteens just like its stars.

Good Boys opening weekend prediction: $14.3 million

For my The Angry Birds Movie 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/06/the-angry-birds-movie-2-box-office-prediction/

For my 47 Meters Down: Uncaged prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/08/47-meters-down-uncaged-box-office-prediction/

For my Blinded by the Light prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/11/blinded-by-the-light-box-office-prediction/

For my Where’d You Go, Bernadette prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/11/whered-you-go-bernadette-box-office-prediction/

The Predator Movie Review

There are moments in The Predator where it feels like the franchise went the route of 80s slasher series when Freddy, Jason, and Michael ruled the day. With the alien creatures roaming the suburbs for a brief stretch and with some deliriously gory bits and extreme profanity, I could imagine this is as the fifth installment when the well is running dry. This could maybe be Predator V following Predator In Harlem or something. It’s a time in the series when ridiculous and probably offensive characters like an autistic kid who’s actually deemed an enhancement in human evolution is introduced. The main protagonist would be dull and boring, not close to matching Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 original or even Danny Glover’s overburdened LAPD officer in the 1990 sequel. And the one-liners would harken back to the rock solid first one but generally be lamer.

Strangely enough, it’s some of that which makes the 2018 edition mindless fun in the first half. This isn’t anything of quality, but it serves as an occasional guilty pleasure VHS throwback that would have filled the shelves of those defunct rental institutions. I think director Shane Black and co-writer Fred Dekker know that. Black has turned into a fine filmmaker with action comedies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. He’s known mostly for his behind the scenes work, but he memorably played the role of Hawkins in Predator’s big screen debut 31 years ago.

The screenplay makes some downright bizarre choices. Jacob Tremblay’s aforementioned autistic kid is one of them. His Special Forces dad Quinn (Boyd Holbrook) is that forgettable head alien battler. Holbrook discovers a title character on a mission and ships some evidence of its existence to his boy. That leads the extraterrestrial to the ‘burbs to retrieve his property. Quinn finds himself detained by the government led by shady Sterling K. Brown and in the company of a motley crew of PTSD soldiers. They include Trevante Rhodes (whose primary character trait is that he smokes), Thomas Jane (he has Tourette’s), and Keegan-Michael Key (yo mama jokes). They’re the guys, along with Olivia Munn’s biologist, who fight not only two Predators, but the space dogs that accompany them. That’s another odd visual choice.

I couldn’t help but be fascinated by Black and Dekker’s outright nuttiness with their take on The Predator. However, it doesn’t last. By the third act, the pic moves to a jungle looking setting with some dodgy effects. We’re hammered with familiarity. That’s what made famous predators like Freddy and Jason and Michael grow stale, but their countless sequels were punctuated with an inspired sequence here and there. We see that early in this reboot and then not really again.

** (out of four)

The Predator Box Office Prediction

Over three decades ago, Shane Black costarred in the classic sci-fi adventure tale Predator. Like most cast members, he didn’t manage to survive the proceedings like Arnold Schwarzenegger did. He did go on to an impressive writing and directing career that includes the screenplays for Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight and serving double duty for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and The Nice Guys. Things come full circle next weekend for Black as he directs and co-writes The Predator, the latest iteration of the long running franchise.

Not counting the two Alien vs. Predator extravaganzas, this is the fourth traditional entry in the series behind the 1987’s original, its 1990 sequel, and the 2010 reboot Predators. Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Wonder star Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, and Thomas Jane populate the human troupe battling the deadly creatures.

It’s actually the first teaming of this franchise with the Alien series that resulted in the largest debut featuring the title character in 2004 – to the tune of a $38.2 million. Predators set the high mark over parts 1 and 2 (due to inflation) with a $24.7 million start. Its overall gross was very front-loaded as it ended up with $52 million.

The eight year inflation should allow The Predator to exceed that, but I don’t see it coming close to the high 30s number that AVP achieved. I would say high 20s is the more reasonable expectation and that should allow it to place #1 at the box office (something Predators couldn’t manage in the heat of significant summer competition). As a comp for 2018, I’ve got this earning a similar debut to this spring’s Pacific Rim Uprising. 

The Predator opening weekend prediction: $27.4 million

For my A Simple Favor prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/05/a-simple-favor-box-office-prediction/

For my White Boy Rick prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/06/white-boy-rick-box-office-prediction/

For my Unbroken: Path to Redemption prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/06/unbroken-path-to-redemption-box-office-prediction/

Wonder Movie Review

Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder is a film, based on description, that might have you fretting it will attempt to bludgeon you into tears with sentimentality. A child with a facial deformity entering public school for the first time could be a recipe for mawkish overload. Yet I’ll be darned if Wonder doesn’t earn its tears (both sad and happy) at a rather astonishing percentage.

The child is Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), born with Treacher Collins syndrome. Going into the fifth grade, Auggie has been home schooled by mom Isabel (Julia Roberts) thus far and been somewhat sheltered from the inevitable bullying and strange looks that greet him. This all changes when he attends a Manhattan middle school. He finds the bullies, but he also finds many kind hearts in the children and adults who populate it.

In Auggie’s story, we do find similarities to 1985’s similarly effective Mask with Eric Stoltz as the outsider kid and Cher as the strong mom. What I didn’t expect here is the number of subplots involving other characters and how powerful they are.

Auggie’s older sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) has the opposite emotional issues as her cherished brother. While Auggie often wishes to just be invisible (his favorite holiday is Halloween because his mask lets him at last be just another kid), Via wishes to be seen. Her mom and dad (Owen Wilson) are consumed with her sibling and his struggles. Her best friend (Danielle Rose Russell) isn’t paying attention to her. Via’s story line is often just as touching as her brother’s.

That’s a testament to a well constructed screenplay based on R.J. Palacio’s bestselling novel. The picture takes time to explain the actions of those around Auggie, including the school children who befriend him and those that choose not to. A weaker script would have turned his classmates into caricatures, but this one knows better.

As he proved in 2015’s Room, Tremblay is a one heck of a child actor. He’s unrecognizable here and he gives another powerhouse performance. Roberts and Wilson provide solid support, as does Mandy Patinkin as the wise principal of the school. And as mentioned, Vidovic shines in the big sister role that a lesser movie wouldn’t have even paid attention to.

It’s a thin line between a film trying to guilt you into throat lumps over warranting them. Wonder has a message of kindness that we could all use from time to time. That messages comes across well and this viewer felt the screenplay more than justified the several occasions of mistiness it caused.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Wonder

Stephen Chbsoky’s Wonder opens on Friday and reviews out today reveal that it could be more than the umpteenth film to feature the word “wonder” in the title. Seriously, there’s been five.

The pic is adapted from a R.J. Palacio novel and casts Jacob Tremblay as a young boy with a facial deformity in public school. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play his parents. Truth be told, I kind of assumed Wonder wasn’t much of a candidate for positive reviews. Yet it’s getting them. Variety went as far to say it deserved to be in the same company as 1980’s The Elephant Man and 1985’s Mask, which both had similar themes. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised considering Chbsoky’s previous directorial effort, 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, received critical praise.

How will this translate to Oscar attention? It most likely won’t, but its chances look better today than yesterday at least. That said, a Best Picture nod is unlikely. Lionsgate could push Tremblay in Supporting Actor and there’s plenty who feel the youngster should have been nominated for 2015’s Room, in which his costar Brie Larson won Actress.

That’s probably a long shot, too. The best hope for Wonder is that its solid reviews thus far will translate to a nice box office showing. And just maybe it could factor into Adapted Screenplay, which is looking less crowded than Original Screenplay right now.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Wonder Box Office Prediction

Jacob Tremblay made quite an impression on audiences and critics two years ago as an abducted child in the Oscar nominated Room. Next weekend, he headlines the drama Wonder, portraying a child with a facial deformity trying to fit into a new school. The film is based on a 2012 novel by R.J. Palacio and is directed by Stephen Chbosky, best known for making the adaptation of his own novel – 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are cast as Tremblay’s parents.

Wonder will attempt to bring in both female and family audiences. For family audiences, there is the animated The Star opening against it (though that should skewer younger) and a little something called Justice League that lots of kids may want to see (though that should skewer more to younger males).

As I see it, I don’t look for Wonder to necessarily have an impressive opening. Low double digits to possibly lower teens seems about right. That said, if audiences like it and if it achieves solid word-of-mouth, it could play well into the Thanksgiving weekend that follows and beyond.

Wonder opening weekend prediction: $12.9 million

For my Justice League prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/11/07/justice-league-box-office-prediction/

For my The Star prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/11/08/the-star-box-office-prediction/