The Film Fix: Review of Good Boys; What to Binge on Netflix, Prime, Hulu

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By Jonathan W. Hickman, The Film Fix

Below are reviews of both big-screen films and streaming selects coming up this month. Review rating … A “Fix” is recommended with a rating between 6 and 10. A “No Fix” is not recommended with a rating between 1 to 5.

IN THEATERS

Good Boys (Fix Rating – 6/10)
Equal parts profane and sweet, Seth Rogen’s voice is channeled through 12-year-old actors with humor and shock value.

To some viewers this rude and crude comedy, that places four-letter words and awkward sexual language into the mouths of middle schoolers, will be too much to bear.  But if you think about it with nostalgic reflection, this comedic fantasy is probably pretty close to reality.

When tween Max (Jacob Tremblay) is invited to a “kissing party,” he convinces the cool kid in charge to permit him to bring along his best pals—Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams).  Before they can attend this right of passage, the beanbag boys, as they call themselves, have to get a little kissing education. And in their pursuit of knowledge, the movie quickly turns into a day-long journey from house-to-house and eventually to a local mall.

Much of the fun is the dialogue in which these boys make use of curse words and other language.  They don’t know how to cuss and only have a limited knowledge of sex. This makes for some uncomfortable viewing.

Not safe for kids, “Good Boys” targets young adults as producers Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Evan Goldberg project their voices and personalities into the middle school setting.  It’s funny, but the laughs are largely more shocking than insightful.

STREAMING SELECTS

Netflix

What to binge: The Politician (September 27) – Ryan Murphy’s jump to Netflix carries with it a star-studded cast, and this combination will be hard to resist. Popular Murphy mainstay Jessica Lange is joined by Gwyneth Paltrow, Bette Midler and others in the high school set comedy/drama/musical. Note that Murphy’s “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” shows up on Amazon Prime Video on September 24.

What movie to watch: In the Shadow of the Moon (September 27) – This Netflix original looks tempting, as it features Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) in a Philadelphia set story about a police detective hunting a serial killer, who kills based on the lunar cycle.  It’s directed by Jim Mickle, who worked with Hall on the excellent “Cold in July” back in 2014.

What to avoid: Self/Less (Streaming Now) – Since Ryan Reynolds found a career boost with his brilliant turn as Deadpool, you might take a risk on his previous efforts.  This below average science fiction film, directed by once thought of “visionary” filmmaker Tarsem Singh (see his amazing “The Fall”), doesn’t cut it.  The story has Reynolds playing a man whose body becomes host to the mind of a billionaire played by Ben Kingsley.

Amazon Prime

What to binge: Last month, I suggested the immensely entertaining and insightful comedy/drama “Fleabag,” and if you’ve not given that show a shot, it is highly recommended.  However, in light of the cancellation of “The Tick,” I would suggest catching it while it is still somewhat current, and before it’s overshadowed by the latest new release.  By the way, the superhero series “The Boys” is a guilty pleasure.

What movie to watch: Platoon 4K (September 30) – The multiple Oscar winning movie (best picture in 1987) gets a 4K release (also on disc).  The film, directed by Oliver Stone, is the harrowing story of a young soldier (played by Charlie Sheen), as he attempts to survive the horrors of Vietnam.

What to avoid: Gothika (September 30) – Hot off her lead actress Oscar win in 2002 for “Monster’s Ball,” Halle Berry starred in this horror/thriller about a depressed psychiatrist, Miranda Grey (Berry), who wakes up one day a patient in her own asylum.  Having no memory of why she is there, Grey must figure out what is going on and escape. This limp effort was directed by Frenchman Mathieu Kassovitz, who had success with 2000’s “The Crimson Rivers,” but crashed epically with the Vin Diesel vehicle “Babylon A.D.” in 2008.

HULU

What movie to watch: The Amazing Johnathan Documentary (streaming now) – When comedic-magician The Amazing Johnathan is diagnosed with a life-ending heart condition, he stops performing, after many successful years in Las Vegas.  But when his condition does not take his life as quickly as he was told, Johnathan decides to tour again. Filmmaker Benjamin Berman joins him to document his return to performing, but then he discovers that he’s not the only one with a camera.  Another film crew is making a film about Johnathan. Berman’s journey proves to be enigmatic and frustrating, as he tries to figure out what is real and what just might be Johnathan’s last, great illusion.

THEATRICAL TEASERS

It Chapter Two (September 6)
In 2017, “It,” the first chapter, devilishly rebooted Stephen King’s bestseller introducing audiences to a new Losers Club and the evil clown child killer Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård).  “Chapter 2” picks up twenty-seven years later when a devastating phone call brings the club back together. It’s a sure bet that Pennywise is back with a vengeance, and now the grown up kids have to once again take the snaggletoothed villain out.  Andy Muschietti returns to direct, and the older Losers Club is played by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader among others.

ART HOUSE CORNER

The Peanut Butter Falcon (Fix Rating 8/10)
“Peanut Butter Falcon” is something of a modern take on “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”  The story has 22-year-old Zak (Zack Gottsagen) escaping from a nursing home and venturing out into the great unknown.  Zak, who has Down Syndrome, has spent two years pining away in the home and longs for some adventure. His aged roommate, Carl (a wonderful Bruce Dern), assists him much to the dismay of a kind social worker named Eleanor (Dakota Johnson).  Once on the outside, Zak encounters Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who has just lost his job and, after a conflict with a mean-spirited crabber named Duncan (a menacing John Hawkes), is forced to leave town. He reluctantly takes Zak along for the ride.  In no time, the two troubled souls bond and end up following the river meeting folks along the way, with Eleanor in pursuit.

“Peanut Butter Falcon” is part revealing drama and endearing fantasy.  While the elements never dip completely into myth, there is a whimsy to the narrative that is infectious. It might seem trite to call any film “heart-warming,” but there’s no denying it, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is easily one of the most-rewarding viewing experiences you are likely to have at the theater this year.

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Jonathan W. Hickman is an entertainment attorney, filmmaker, college professor, and novelist. More about Jonathan can be found by visiting: filmproductionlaw.com.

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