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The Kings of Summer

October 5, 2013

The Kings of Sumer movie poster

The Kings of Summer is a breezy film about three teenagers finding their way in the wilderness. Their lives are not especially difficult but they struggle to find their identities as they move into their sophomore year of high school. So, they build a DIY house (the front door is from a porta potty) in the wilderness and live off the land and Boston Market. The film is a quirky delight filled with character actors, mustaches and wonderful moments.

It was a fantastic summer for property destruction (Man of Steel, Star Trek, Pacific Rim, World War Z, Wolverine) and teenagers (Mud, Spectacular Now, The Way, Way Back). Mud, Now and Way Back feature kids who find their way by actually experiencing the world. The separate themselves from the technological trappings and find first love, loss and sobriety. All of them are unique and wonderful in their own ways and I hope audiences discover each film.

Kings differ from the above mentioned films in it’s off-kilter approach and father/son dynamics. Mud and Spectacular feel very natural and realistic while Way Back and Kings feel written. This is not a bad thing to feel “written.” Tarantino’s films have the same quality and Rashida Jone’s neat Celeste and Jessie Forever had a similar written quality. You can sense the one-liners, set ups and personalities of the creators shine through. The conversations in King’s are mere fodder for the characters (mainly Nick Offerman) to verbally lambaste unwitting cops, boyfriends or parents. For instance, this gem between Offerman and a cop.

Cop: “Mr. Toy, are you familiar with boy who cried wolf?” 

Offerman: ”Yes, I experienced a childhood on the planet Earth.”

Kings of Summer creates a farcical world where three teenagers can run away from home and live in a homemade shelter without being bothered. The police are incompetent and the parents not overly concerned. The biggest worry between them is the one girl who will inevitably break one’s heart and win over the other.

The Kings of Summer

The problems in this film are not life threatening or epic. The movie stems from kids wanting to grow up and learning it isn’t always ideal. Your best friend might date the girl of your dreams. Your dad might be incredibly sarcastic and gruff. A snake might bite you while you try to machete it.

The Kings of Summer is a unique blast of fresh air that adds another solid chapter to the growing up genre. Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias are wonderful as the the lead trio who are equal parts naive, intelligent and odd. The supporting cast including Alison Brie, Megan Mullalley and Mary Lynn Rajskub are reliably hilarious without being over the top. I totally recommend watching the film so you can appreciate the writing and world building.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 6, 2013 2:38 pm

    To me, the movie was just okay. The problem I mainly had were that these kids were just too thinly-written to where I didn’t really see much more to them than just your standard, ordinary teenager. Maybe that was the point, but it didn’t work well for me. Good review.

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