September 17, 2013

The Kings of Summer

Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2013

In an effort to escape the constraints of their overbearing parents, buddies Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso) decide to build a house in the middle of the woods with the help of oddball friend Biaggo (Moises Arias). When they complete their project they realize they have created something that will have a long lasting impact on them.

It's a coming-of-age tale that is really nice looking, but also possesses an inviting quality that is both endearing and comedic that generates memories of Stand By Me. It examines the ever constant painful embarrassment of growing up in your parents house and not having the means to escape. The cast is full of personality, with Nick Offerman perfectly cast as the bitter father who is still grieving over the loss of his wife and taking it out on everyone around him. His sister Heather (Alison Brie) is at an age that she was able to escape to freedom but left Joe to endure the angst. Patrick has his overbearing parents (played by the very talented Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson), who have a difficult time letting Patrick leave their sight. When they do have him in their grasp, they spend the entire time picking apart every facet of his existence. The addition of Biaggio to the group adds a lot of levity. Certainly (and hopefully) not the last we'll see of Moises Arias.

The kids are just looking for some air to breathe, and they find it in their Thoreauian fortress. The sound of their parents voice is enough to annoy them, and the young boys likely see their elders as reflections of their future selves - and that's a scary thing to them. They want their niche. They also want a sense of purpose. They establish principles, and try to stick to them. A very present soundtrack really amplifies the film with a repetitive melody scored by Ryan Miller combined with several other Indie staples. The punched up script delivers the laughs and feels fresh. The film does get a bit overindulgent with the slow-motion shots, some of the awkward humor feels a bit forced at times, and the building of their house feels quite painless... but that's okay. It succeeds in its message. It's a very relatable film to anyone who grew up looking for some independence, and we all attempted to construct shacks that were likely far less detailed than the house in Kings.

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