The Kings Of Summer (2013)

The Kings Of SummerFrustrated by his single father’s attempts to manage his life, fifteen-year-old Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) plans to leave the family home and prove himself as an adult. Finding a clearing in the woods on the way home from a friend’s party, Joe returns on a number of occasions with supplies, and invites best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and strange acquaintance Biaggio (Moisés Arias) to join him on his quest for independence. As the weeks go on, however, their resolve begins to weaken: Joe and Patrick’s parents have reported them missing and the arrival of the former’s crush, Kelly (Erin Moriarty), on the scene causes friction between the friends.

As children we surely all at some point dreamt of running away, but few of us ever acted on it. Chris Galletta’s wonderful — and one-time Black Listed — script imagines how one might actually go about leaving curfews and game nights behind. The boys are serious; they’re not content to spend their weekends in a shoddy tree house but instead envisage a functioning, long-term home replete with furnishings and facilities. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is determined to keep things relatively realistic, and the results are as ramshackle as you might expect, yet are robust enough to convince you that they might just about prove sufficient.

There’s still a degree of imagination required, however, with lens flares and dream-like fantasies tempering the reality of it, and in many ways this could be seen as some sort of spiritual successor to Where The Wild Things Are. If Max’s attempts to prove himself were wildly premature, Joe’s are a little more believable, and rather than attempting to lord over fantastical creatures he spends his time growing a moustache, passing off store-bought chicken as self-slain and coming up with rules to keep their new lives safe from the outside world. But there are still lessons to learn, and like Wild Things the film becomes more than a fabulist adventure when the characters do grow up, but perhaps not in the manner they expected to.

The cast are superb, without exception. Robinson carries the film with incredible confidence, creating a character that is suitably immature but never less than sympathetic. Basso and Arias are great too, with the latter stealing scenes with a weirdness that is quirky without ever quite becoming annoying. Vogt-Roberts’ true genius is in his casting of the supporting roles, however, with Nick Offerman very nearly walking away with the movie thanks to his deliciously dry turn as Joe’s father Frank. That said, he has some serious competition in the form of Community‘s Alison Brie and Will & Grace alumnus Megan Mullally, both of whom tone down their more overtly comic schtick without ever losing their sense of humour.

The Kings Of Summer is a charming little coming-of-age drama, and one that would make a great companion piece to Jeff Nichols’ Mud. The two even share a certain plot point, which each deals with its own unique, but equally dramatic way. Nostalgic but rarely sentimental, funny but never flippant, it’s one of those films that treads the fine line of being both for adolescents and about adolescence itself.

4-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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