R13: Frequent offensive language, sexual material and drug use
This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this movie.
Good Boys is a comedy film from the United States. It follows the three self-proclaimed ‘Beanbag Boys’, who are in their tweenage years. Their de facto leader is the hopeless romantic Max, who is invited to a kissing party where his crush will be present. Thor is excited to audition for their school’s production of ‘Rock of Ages’, but is bullied out of auditioning. Lucas finds out that his parents are going through a divorce and doesn’t know how to approach this with his friends.
The boys’ invitation to the party is jeopardised when they lose Max’s father’s drone while spying on older teenage neighbour Hannah and her friend Lily, so that they can learn how to kiss. Hannah and Lily take the drone and refuse to give it back so Max steals Hannah’s bag which, incidentally, has a child’s vitamin bottle with MDMA in it. The boys are vehemently anti-drugs and are horrified at the girls. In an attempt to stop the girls from taking the drugs, the boys renege on a deal they had, only to accidentally break the drone. For the first time, the boys wag school and have to make it to a mall across town to replace the drone before Max’s father returns from his work trip, so that they can all go to the party. The film is a series of misadventures and learning experiences for the boys who discover a lot about life, and themselves, in the process.
Date registered: 03/09/2019
Sex is at a low level although references to sex are made on a regular basis. Characters speak in a frank manner about sex and the boys find sex toys and sex related paraphernalia, although they have no idea of what the items are or what the older characters are talking about.
For example, Max’s father catches him in his room using his laptop to enlarge the breasts on a gaming character and assumes that he is about to masturbate, which horrifies Max. This leads to an awkward but affirming conversation about how proud he is that Max is now masturbating. Thor’s father owns a lifelike latex doll with large breasts that the boys refer to as a “CPR doll”. Max pretends that the doll is his crush and, after asking for permission to do so, innocently kisses it, then asks why she has hair in her mouth. When Lucas dislocates his shoulder the friends try to help him and Google how to fix it. They put a ball gag in his mouth for him to bite down on while they put his shoulder back in place.
In another scene, the boys look up ‘Porn’ on a laptop while trying to research how to kiss. It shows a clip of clothed people in a bedroom. The stepmother is berating her stepson (a person of equal age) and angrily tells him to pull his pants down. The shot cuts to the three boys expressing disgust at what they see – Lucas yells “get out of there, girl” and they slam the computer shut. One boy says to another, “They didn’t even kiss” and the other replies, “well, not on the mouth”. Later, Lucas says that the man licked the woman’s anus. This is not seen on screen.
The references to sex are generally humorous and are at no point intended to be titillating. Most of these references are likely to go over the heads of younger viewers.
The film deals with matters of crime to a low extent and degree. Most of this is to do with drug use. There is a side-story where Max’s neighbour Hannah and her friend Lily plan to take MDMA (referred to as ‘molly’) which is inadvertently stolen by the boys. The boys try their best to convince Hannah and Lily not to take the drugs, running away from them, trying to hand the bottle to an off-duty police officer, and even giving the girls the container back with gummy vitamins in. Seeing no other way to get a replacement drone for Max’s dad, they agree to buy drugs for Hannah from a university student.
Later Hannah and Lily appear at the party, clearly under the influence of MDMA in that they are now pleasant and relaxed, and they talk to the boys. There is a montage of the school production of ‘Rock of Ages’, which includes Thor snorting some white powder on stage, and parents look uncomfortable, and a teacher sniffing amyl nitrite (commonly known as poppers). The boy’s passionately anti-drug stance means that drug use is not promoted or encouraged; the drug taking girls are definitely the “villains” of the film.
Other crimes are petty: the boys steal Hannah’s bag, they spy on Hannah and Lily using a drone, and Thor steals a bottle of beer.
The film contains a high extent of highly offensive language such as “shit” and “fuck” which is said by all of the characters in the film, including children. The language is used casually, in moments of frustration, and comes across as humorous. This kind of usage is likely to encourage younger audiences to copy this behaviour, which will strongly impact on their socialisation as they grow up.
The boys engage in some harmful imitable conduct. The strongest scene is one in which the boys run across a highway into fast oncoming traffic in order to get to the mall. Although the film poses running across a highway as being dangerous and scary for all of the boys, they make it across the highway unscathed. Thor causes a multi-car pile-up and a figure is shot through the windscreen of one of the cars and onto the road. The boys panic and think they’ve killed someone until they realise that its Thor’s father’s CPR doll. While the boys instantly regret their decision, very young children might not appreciate that this is a completely unrealistic situation and are likely to consider this as a valid way to traverse a motorway.
Two scenes involve children being challenged to drink beer. The strongest occurs at a party where Thor is determined to break the beer sipping record and finally lose his nickname of ‘sippy cup’. The record number of sips is three and Thor does four. Although taking only tiny sips, it is clearly hard going for him and he retches and almost vomits at the third sip. When he takes the fourth sip he gains the acceptance and respect of his peers. The scene makes a mockery of this type of masculine behaviour and satirises peer pressure in a way that younger teens can easily understand.
The Classification Office invited six members of the Office’s Youth Advisory Panel to the screening. All of them are either 18 or 19 years of age. Members of the panel came to a consensus that the film was not aimed at children, and that it was a sweet coming-of-age film. It encouraged them to think back on their own experiences as children and they thought the humour came from the fact that children were doing outrageous acts.
There was some dissent around what content was concerning. Some talked about the sexual content, which may make children think that their own experiences are lacking or behind, and may encourage them to engage with or research these issues without suitable context. Others felt that the sexual references were less of a concern, and that the references were likely to go over children’s heads.
There was a consensus that the language that was used was unsuitable for young children. One member noted that young people that age were likely to be using that kind of language already.
The panel members were not concerned about the content relating to drug use in the film, which they did not consider glorified or encouraged it in any way. They felt that the impact was limited as the film only used nicknames for drugs. One member noted that the violence in the film could be distressing for some audiences, but that it was mild overall. Some members also noted that the film showed good depictions of consent and clearly noted drug harms.
Good Boys is a fast-paced coming-of-age comedy, which warmly depicts the central characters in a positive manner. It is clearly aimed at older audiences, with much of the humour coming from a mixture of nostalgia for the children’s naivety and the subversion of how tween children are usually presented in films. The film uses some sexual humour that adults will appreciate but which will go over the heads of many younger viewers. This content is balanced by the film’s positive messages around consent, friendship and responsibility. Younger teens will be able to relate to the experiences the boys share and their responses to various situations. Ultimately, it’s a film about self-acceptance and learning to make good decisions.
However, the film still requires restriction. The frequent use of highly offensive language is likely to negatively impact on children’s socialisation by normalising its use and encouraging them to emulate it without understanding the social implications. Teenagers are likely to be well aware of the social conventions on the use of such language and are less likely to use it inappropriately. Imitable conduct, particularly the scene where the boys run across through traffic a highway, is also likely to give younger children the impression that dangerous acts are exciting and without personal consequence.
The film’s sometimes frank sexual material and references to drug use are likely to make little impression on those who do not already possess the level of knowledge and understanding required to interpret the true meaning of the content. While the sexual content is likely to be considered offensive by some adults, the risk of long term harm from exposing younger teenagers to this material is low.
If a member of the public is unhappy with a Classification Office decision, they can make an application to the Film and Literature Board of Review for a new decision.
In the case of Good Boys, an application was made to appeal the Classification Office decision. The applicant to the Board of Review felt that the film should have a higher classification because the film contained sexual content and drug use. The applicant was concerned that the depictions in the film would normalise sex and drug using behaviour in 13-year-olds.
Rather than 'reviewing' the Classification Office decision, the Board of Review is required to go through the process of examining the film against the classification criteria and determining a new classification - that classification can be lower, higher, or the same as the Classification Office decision.
In its decision, the Board noted that although the film deals with sex and drug content, it does not do so in a way that was likely to harm those 13 and above, noting:
Although there are sexual themes throughout the movie, they are presented in a socially responsible manner, and not intended to be titillating. The importance of consent to any sexual activity is emphasised. Likewise, where the procurement of illicit drugs is shown, the underlying messaging is that of disapproval. The movie demonstrates the importance of sound personal identity and integrity.Film and Literature Board of Review, 2019
As such, the film was classified R13 by the Film and Literature Board of Review on 13 December 2019.
Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.