'Good Boys' Opening Weekend Subverts Expectations
August 20, 2019
It doesn't seem natural to view a medium-budget studio comedy as an underdog, but that's exactly the category Good Boys was in as it headed into the weekend. In fact, many thought it might get out-grossed by the action flick Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, despite it being the franchise spin-off’s third weekend at the box office.
But in a turn of events that can only be good news for storytelling on the big screen, Good Boys ended up taking the weekend box office crown with a haul of $21 million, easily besting Hobbs & Shaw's $14 million. The result is encouraging on multiple fronts.
First, let’s take the comedy genre. It seems to have a harder time than most breaking through at the cinema these days. So, the fact that audiences were so ready to embrace a comedy speaks to the general health of one of the most commercially fragile, yet creatively rich, mainstream genres.
For the most part, the comedies that have broken through in the last decade or so tend to be star vehicles centered around an established comedy celebrity and reliant on their already-established comedic persona.
Seth Rogan is one such example, and even his latest movie, Long Shot, struggled to find a large audience in theaters earlier this year. But that probably had more to do with it getting steamrolled by the second week of Avengers: Endgame.
Now Rogan is back, this time as a producer on Good Boys. And although he isn’t in the film itself, he is featured heavily in the marketing for the R-rated film—which plays off the fact that its main three young stars weren't actually allowed to see it. The film’s marketing campaign not only emphasized the fact that Good Boys was rated R—increasingly rare in modern cinema, and not something you'd necessarily discern from the poster—it did a great job of showcasing the comedic talent of the three lead actors: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, and Brady Noon.
Tremblay, who broke out in 2015's Room, has something of a profile, but none of these kids has ever opened a movie before. This only strengthens the notion that Good Boys earned its successful opening box office status on merit.
The other strong component behind Good Boys is the script. Written by long-time collaborators Gene Stupnitsky (who also directed the film) and Lee Eisenberg (The Office, Hello Ladies, Bad Teacher), the story treads an admirably thin line as the film's three young characters engage in increasingly adult-centric humor. In this age of everyone being offended by everything, the lack of pearl-clutching in and around the film is positively refreshing. The overall embracing of Good Boys should show the studios that investing in comedies with fresh talent and a truly funny story can pay off.
Further down the box office results at number four (The Lion King took third) is The Angry Birds Movie 2, which earned $10 million over the weekend for a total of $16 million since opening last Wednesday.
It's not an impressive number, especially compared to the $38 million its predecessor took on its opening weekend, but it is worth noting that the film has been widely hailed by critics as being much better than the first Angry Birds movie. Indeed therefore, not too bad at all. For a franchise that appears to exist for reasons separate to telling a story because it needed to be told, that's a notable turnaround—and proof that good storytelling can show up in places that exist for even the most brazenly commercial reasons.
Written by: Dominic CorryDominic Corry is a Los Angeles-based film critic, writer, journalist and broadcaster. Raised in New Zealand, he is also the West Coast editor of Letterboxd, the social network for movie lovers. For more of his film writing, see his website www.TheGoodInMovies.com