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Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.





Good Boys Movie Review

Perhaps you have heard this one before: A group of friends want to attend a party with all their classmates, in the hopes of elevating their social status and meeting the girl of their dreams. Plenty of movies have followed this plot and many more will to come.

In "Good Boys," there's a twist on the tried-and-true premise; the group of friends are all preteen sixth graders. Party movies are rife with crude humor, drinking, drugs and plenty of swearing, especially from the producing team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, but the hook of "Good Boys" is that 12 year olds drop f-bombs for 90 minutes. Your mileage may vary, but director Gene Stupnitsky and his co-writer Lee Eisenberg make it work - for the most part.

Max ("Room" breakout star Jacob Tremblay) has been friends with Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) for most of his life. They grew up together, having sleepovers and forming a tight friendship and branding themselves as "The Beanbag Boys." At school, they aren't necessarily teased or seen as outsiders, but they operate in their own social circle and are never invited to be a part of the "cool kids."

That changes when Max is randomly invited to a "kissing party" at a popular kid's house and must plead for Lucas and Thor to be invited as well. Everyone in their class will be there and this gives Max the opportunity to interact with - and hopefully kiss - his crush Brixlee (Millie Davis). The only problem is, none of the boys know how to kiss and must find out how any way possible. They use Max's father's (Will Forte) drone to spy on an older neighbor and her boyfriend but when the drone breaks, the boys must go on a quest to find a new one before Max's dad gets home, and still make it to the party.

"Good Boys" has an undeniable energy, as most race-to-the-party films do, but don't let the pint-size packaging fool you; we've been down this road many times before. Tremblay, in just a few films, has established himself as one of the great young talents working today, and Williams and Noon are both strong breakouts, delivering a punchline with proficient timing. Under all the crass, like most films of this kind, the movie is about friendship, and the three actors have a believable rapport as lifelong friends.

The success of "Good Boys" hinges on the conceit of watching preteens swear. One would hope the actors don't fully know what they are saying at times, but the movie leans a bit too heavily into the innocent cluelessness of the characters. They mistake a sex doll for a CPR doll or misuse the word "misogynist" and the movie replays variations of that joke throughout. The movie has its share of laughs but tries to skate by on the one-joke premise.

In the dog days of a massively lackluster summer, "Good Boys" offers raunchy fun in a sweet story about friendship. It all may be a bit too familiar but sometimes it's nice to be reminded to keep those most important to you close, even when life has you going in different directions. Who would have thought a bunch of kids could remind us of that in these trying times?

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