Good Kids – Chris McCoy, 2016
Good Kids follows four best friends, Andy (Nicholas Braun), Nora (Zoey Deutch), Spice (Israel Broussard), and Lion (Mateo Arias), as they graduate high school and enjoy their last summer before leaving for college. Having been overachieving outsiders throughout their school lives, as shown in a flashback clip of them eight years earlier, the four decide to ditch their usual good behaviour in favour of a summer filled with alcohol, partying, and getting out of their comfort zones.
Netflix rates it: 4.5 stars
I rate it: 3.5 stars
As Good Kids comes from the same producers as American Pie, it might be expected that it would follow a similar format. It does have the humour, but it plays out in a far less crude way, and focuses more on developing the storylines of the characters. It’s definitely more of a standalone film than a series as well, as the ending is pretty conclusive.
It’s a shame that Andy and Nora are focused on far more than Spice and Lion, especially considering they are all equal parts of their outsider friend group. Interesting storylines are set up for them all initially, so it is unfortunate that the audience don’t get to see as much detail in the way half of the main characters’ summers play out.
Despite this, it’s clear that the main cast have great chemistry which makes their long-lasting friendship believable. It’s nice to see a group of characters with such different interests (Nora is into science and Lion favours martial arts, for example) managing to stay close despite their differences. In this way, they appear far more representative of real-life people than some characters in films of a similar genre. Braun does well portraying Andy’s conversion from being naïve and innocent at the start of the film to being experienced and confident at the end. Deutch’s character has a more typical storyline, falling for an older guy and ending up with her heart broken, but still manages to show her character’s growth.
One of the most meaningful exchanges comes fairly late in the film, when Andy has a chat with one of the popular guys from school who tells him that he and his friends had always been included from everyone else’s point of view, it was Andy himself who created distance between his friend group and everyone else. This is an interesting message as usually films of this type portray the popular kids as the villains and the outsiders as victims. This kind of turns that idea on its head, which is refreshing.
The cinematography is bright and distinctly summery, which provides the perfect amount of escapism for the audience and acts as the textbook background for a typical American summer spent by the beach.
Overall, the cinematography and sense of escapism sets Good Kids up well, and the film is only strengthened by the great chemistry between characters which makes their friendship more realistic. Despite some pretty unbelievable moments, which detract from the realism provided by other elements of the film, Good Kids remains entertaining throughout and maintains its fun theme. At this time of the year, when winter feels like it’s dragging on and spring is taking its sweet time to arrive, what could be more appealing than some summery escapism?
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