Mix Good Boys with The Mitchells vs the Machines, add in Disney funding but give it not to Pixar, not to Disney but Century Studios, formerly part of Fox, and you get this animated commentary on technology and middle-schoolers. This film is flying under the radar but deserves a watch on either HBO Max or Disney Plus, it is available on both!
Marc, Justice Smith, is a stand-in for a kinder, gentler, and more considerate Mark Zuckerberg. His company developed a robot for children to help them make friends. His co-founder, Andrew (Rob Delaney), is leveraging the data collection aspects of the always-on cameras and microphones to boost the company’s, Bubble, stock value. Barney, Jack Dylan Grazer, lives with his widowed father, voiced by Ed Helms, and his Bulgarian immigrant grandmother, voiced by Olivia Coleman. He is the only kid at school without the new robot and finally gets one. Ron, the robot is voiced by Zach Galifianakis and doesn’t have the same programming as the other robots.
The normal bots follow a pre-set algorithm convincing their child owners that likes and subscriber numbers are the most valuable thing. They discourage friendships because of one-dimensional differences in interests. The bots help reinforce the cliques we all remember from school.
Two battles are going on in the film. One against the robots and social media overtaking the children, like The Mitchells vs the Machines. The second, trying to rebuild relationships based on proximity, a through line of Good Boys. While The Mitchells end with a rejection of technology, this film embraces it but leverages the good parts. Good Boys see the childhood friends grow apart and discover new friends that share more common interests. This film brings friends back together. I think the intersection of all three of these films is a good place to meet, they all contribute positive messages with nuances that even children can understand. All three films are enjoyable and deserve a watch, so why not make a weekend out of it and complete the trilogy?