Friday, May 31, 2013

The Kings of Summer - Movie Review

The Kings of Summer is a coming of age tale written by Chris Galletta and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts both of whom are making their feature film debuts. Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, and Moises Arias play three teenage friends who set out on a mission to gain their independence, but end up learning that leaving family and civilization behind may not always be the best option.

Joe (Robinson) and Patrick (Basso) have both been fed up with their parents for some time and, while Patrick is reluctant to make any sort of change, Joe has designs on obtaining his freedom from a father he doesn't relate to on any level. When a weekend keg party gets broken up by the local authorities, the two young men, along with the very strange Biaggio (Arias) and the lovely Kelly (Erin Moriarty), find themselves lost in the forest after running from the party as quickly as they could.

When the friends get separated, Joe stumbles upon a clearing that he realizes could be a perfect place to literally begin building a new life and starts making plans to turn this epiphany into a reality. Biaggio needs no convincing that this is a good idea, but Patrick isn't quite sure. Even so, he reluctantly helps his two pals in first designing, then gathering materials for, and eventually building a house in Joe's hidden clearing out in the woods. The boys eventually make a pact and decide it is time they left their old lives behind and begin living what they feel is a better life, free from the constraints of parenting and societal obligations.

While their family, friends, and the entire town search for who they feel are three lost and lonely young boys, the trio of young men are living a life of freedom the likes of which they have never experienced before. Of course, there are unexpected issues that surface like snakes, food supply, and design flaws in the house they built from makeshift materials and just about anything else they could find. Eventually the negative aspects of their independent lifestyle begin to take their toll and each of the boys' own resolve is put to the test and friendships once thought unbreakable are brought into question.

This is one of those movies where I find it very difficult to keep my synopsis from taking over the entire review as there is just so much going on. Every character, from the three boys, who are played brilliantly by some very talented young actors, to the parents and friends they interact with are all very well fleshed out and you can't help but find yourself drawn into their world. I especially enjoyed Nick Offerman's performance as Joe's no nonsense dad who may be a little lost, but is quick to take an aggressive stance to protect his family.

Then there is Moises Arias' take on the unbelievably strange Biaggio who you just have to see for yourself to really understand who he is. Just keep in mind that he is the one you will be laughing at and talking about long after the credits begin to roll. At times, just like young Biaggio, the story becomes a little silly, but at its core is a truly well thought out tale of friendship and growing up that is very easy to relate to.

Sure, there have been countless coming of age tales that have been shown on movie screens around the world. Some are good and some are not so good, but every once in awhile one will come along that leaves its mark on the collective psyche of a population that yearns for a simpler time when youthful exuberance overruled any sense of responsibility and turned a blind eye to the impending adulthood that always seemed to be lurking on the horizon. The Kings of Summer brilliantly captures that raw emotion in a way that not only entertains, but reminds us what it felt like to be too young to know any better.

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