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Review: “The Kings of Summer”

Review: “The Kings of Summer”

Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias and Nick Robinson are "The Kings of Summer." Photo courtesy of CBS Films.

Review: “The Kings of Summer”
June 06
16:14 2013

James Clay / Intern

4 out of 5 Stars

Screened at the Sundance Film Festival under the name “Toy’s House,” Jordan Vogt-Robert’s debut film “The Kings of Summer” is a bold coming-of-age story touching on issues young teenage boys are forced to deal with, such as overbearing parents, unrequited love and the ever-popular concept of “bromance.” It’s an honest piece of filmmaking that can be described as a mix of “Stand by Me” and “Superbad.”

“The Kings of Summer” follows two 15-year-old best friends, Joe, an average high school student played by Nick Robinson, and Patrick, a jock with a whole lot of heart played by Gabriel Basso. The two best friends recruit another classmate, Biaggio, played by Moises Arias, to assist them with their idea of a revolution. The three friends are fed up with their home lives, and with summer vacation fast approaching, they embark on a Henry David Thoreau style adventure, building a house in the woods to live off the land.

The acting in the film is solid all around. Robinson and Basso’s performances successfully capture a tender time in an adolescent’s life. It’s hard to say the same for Arias, previously seen in “Hannah Montana.” While he does a fine acting job and his performance occasionally evokes laugh out loud moments, Biaggio becomes aggravating and distracting from the otherwise solid emotional core of the film.

The great Nick Offerman, famous from his role on “Parks and Recreation,” gives a rare silver screen performance as Joe’s father Frank, a grouchy but lovable widower. Offerman gets the chance to act alongside his real life wife Megan Mullally, making for some hilarious moments between the two.

A first time screenwriter, Chris Galleta creates a solid screenplay with a tight story and witty dialogue. Galleta’s script also does a fine job of shifting tones from comedy to drama throughout each act of the film. Even though this film carries an R-rating, it is not too offensive and would be perfect for a father-son trip to the movies.

The film does become a little problematic and gets a little lost in the woods – no pun intended – especially when the boys just seem to hang out in their tree house. But the story picks up eventually, adding new twists to its emotional depth.

“The Kings of Summer” is an inspirational film without being cheesy, retaining the spirit of youth while displaying how difficult being a young man on the verge of adulthood can be. This film will have audiences laughing uproariously and may even catch them on the verge of tears. It’s a film that moviegoers should not overlook.

“The Kings of Summer” opens Friday.

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