May 13, 2014

Review: The Kings of Summer (2013)

Coming-of-age movies are one of my favourite subgenres of cinema. Who doesn't like the challenges faced by some soon-to-be adult. Life isn't easy but there only so many ways you can present teenage problems. I think Hollywood has kind of used up all the possible ways a teen can feel that the world is against them but that doesn't stop The Kings of Summer from entertaining. It's got a unique, jittery way of showing imagery with a soundtrack that doesn't stop for a second.

The Kings of Summer is Jordan Vogt-Roberts' directorial debut and he's done a good job. Even the script comes courtesy of a newcomer in Chris Galletta. The story is about Joe wanting to escape his father who has become bitter and quite honestly an asshole following the death of his wife. Joe has a best friend named Patrick who also has had it with his annoying parents. They decide to build a house in the middle of the woods away from everything and everyone, joined by a random kid called Biaggio.

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Genre: comedy, drama
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Produced by: Tyler Davidson, John Hodges, Peter Saraf, etc.
Written by: Chris Galletta
Music by: Ryan Miller
Running time: 95 minutes
Production company: Big Beach Films, Low Spark Films
Distributed by: CBS Films, E1 Films Canada, JIL, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $1,315,590 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Craig Cackowski, William Sonnie, Nathan Keyes, Cristoffer Carter, Megan Mullally, Priscilla Kaczuk, Marc Evan Jackson, Alison Brie, Eugene Cordero, Gillian Vigman, Mary Lynn Rajskub

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Review


The story doesn't really present anything new. It's very relatable though because I'm sure everyone knows what it's like to parents always being on your case. I'm not sure I'd ever consider building a house in the woods to escape them but Joe and Patrick do this to also become their own men. Independence is a pretty big theme in The Kings of Summer and it's well explored. Biaggio himself is a funny character but falls into the familiar "weird" kid category of character. He's worth more than a couple of laughs though so it's forgivable.

I'm definitely a fan of the cinematography in The Kings of Summer. It's filtered in a way that screams indie movie but I mean that in a good way. It's got a lot of these closeup mini montages that are rich in colour and give the movie an interesting style while breaking up scenes nicely.

The acting of all the characters is well done as well. Nick Robinson does good work as Joe although he does look pretty goofy with his extremely thin facial hair in his attempt at being a forest man. I wonder if he'll become a hot ticket item with his casting in the upcoming Jurassic World. Gabriel Basso is also good as is Moises Arias playing Biaggio who I said was a pretty amusing character. Nick Offerman does great as the mean dad too.

There are some pretty melodramatic moments that seem a bit hollow but that doesn't ruin the movie. These conventional storytelling clich├ęs seem a bit weird compared to the unique energy found in The Kings of Summer all the same though. Still, themes like friendship and love are some of cinema's favourites to explore and The Kings of Summer does that pretty well.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts's movie definitely deserves a chance. Despite its familiarity, The Kings of Summer feels pretty different and gets away with it. The actors are all on the same page and I can't say enough about the at times bombastic soundtrack that also adds a dose of nostalgia. There are lots of reasons to love coming-of-age movies and The Kings of Summer is one of them.

Rating


6.5/10