Playing immature will be a completely different move for Tremblay.
You’ll know Jacob Tremblay as one of the most adorable child actors out there who enraptures audiences in his roles in heartwrenching movies. His performance is one half of a very important puzzle in Room, where he and Brie Larson play a perfectly complicated mother-son duo. In portraying a young boy with Treacher Collins syndrome in Wonder who struggles to fit in at a new school, Tremblay continued on a streak of tugging on heartstrings.
But Tremblay seems to be breaking out of the box that many have placed him in for years. Deadline reports that he has signed on to play one of the protagonists in a new raunchy comedy called Good Boys. The film will be written and directed by The Office‘s Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg — kings of the modern-day R-rated comedy — will produce the film along with James Weaver through Point Grey Pictures.
Good Boys centers on four 12-year-old boys who skip school to engage in some comedic shenanigans, and that’s all anybody knows about it for now. It’s a good enough summary that invokes some serious Ferris Bueller vibes; Deadline clarifies that the film will be a “Stand By Me meets Superbad” situation, so the ’80s comparison isn’t completely off. But it also begs the question of “why?” especially where Tremblay is concerned.
Tremblay is most famous for playing parts that explicate difficult subjects in mature ways. Room is a tough movie to watch as it discusses abduction, rape, depression, and suicide, among other themes. Wonder deals closely with bullying as Tremblay’s character grapples with a peer group that doesn’t accept him. Tremblay’s characters have had to interact so closely with such serious topics that it’s hard to imagine him playing a kid who doesn’t know any better and would go off the rails as such. He can translate challenging material into empathetic performances on screen. So where do these mature sensibilities fit in an R-rated comedy?
It is worth noting that we don’t know exactly what kind of character Tremblay will play in Good Boys; if he’ll be the straight character dragged along for the ride of someone else’s mischief-making or if he’s initiating the hooliganism. But in general, Good Boys will be in a completely different ballpark to the aforementioned dramas, and from what we know about lewd comedies in general, it’ll be an opportunity for Tremblay to be far less mature on screen. As a young actor, Tremblay should be free to expand his horizons and work on material that challenges him as well as how audiences perceive him. A change like that can be promising as long as the film lives up to its pitch of being something that has enough heart to balance out the monkey business.
However, while real 12-year-old boys can be crude as they come, there’s no need for a glossy production to reinforce that in a comedic setting that could glorify questionable acts on the big screen. There are Rogen/Goldberg productions which are extreme for the sake of it; that’s how Sausage Party was born. Point Grey’s live-action films sometimes fare better, but they’re not total winners. The Neighbors films are competent comedies that try to incorporate messages of self-acceptance and even feminism, but they’re very shallow.
This doesn’t bode very well for fans hoping that Tremblay finds his feet in thought-provoking projects. And of course, “thoughtful” is not a synonym for dramatic. Films don’t have to shy away from extreme behavior or even the concept of acting out as long as they give us reasons to care about the characters and what they’re going through.
But maybe that’s exactly why Tremblay is needed in Good Boys. The film is an utter conundrum already. It could be far more relatable and even palatable than its limited categorization just because we know Tremblay is a good, smart, and thoughtful actor already. Nobody yet knows if he could work with any material out there, but his filmography shows a lot of potential for growth.
Certainly, with Tremblay being involved in something so different, the film could be worth watching right there for anyone curious to follow his career. But there’s also rightful cause to remain wary.