"Why live when you can rule."
There have been several coming of age films that have been released over the years, but very few have actually stuck with me. The Kings of Summer is one of those few movies that appealed to me and had me emotionally involved with the characters. First time director Jordan Vogt-Roberts takes us through a range of emotions from nostalgic and heart breaking moments to laugh out loud buddy moments. It lives up to the standard of other great coming of age tales like Stand By Me. There is something about a group of young teens exploring the woods and their transition to adulthood that simply appeals to me. The scenery was also breathtaking and I absolutely fell in love with those woods. I could see what was so appealing for these kids and their need to feel independent. It does have that sort of familiar indie vibe to it, but thanks to some great performances the movie stands out above most of them. Moises Arias had me laughing throughout the entire movie playing this quirky character that reminded me a lot of Fogell in Superbad. His comedic timing was perfect and he had the funniest lines in the film. The screenplay by first timer Chris Galletta was also really well developed. I will be looking forward to his next work because his script made it easy to go through such different ranges of emotions. This film felt like a simple sweet feel good movie and it is one that I would recommend to my friends especially if they love the woods.
Joe (Nick Robinson) has just finished his freshman year in High School and isn't looking forward to spending his Summer with his widowed father Frank (Neil Offerman) who makes his life miserable just because he's miserable. His best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) doesn't enjoy living with his parents any better. His parents (played by Marc Evan Jackson and Megan Mullally) are over protective and seem to want to manage every single detail of his life. Not wanting to spend their entire summers abiding by their parents rules the two kids decide to run away and build their own home in the nearby woods and survive in the wild by hunting and gathering food. This way they can be free to do what they want and make their own rules. Joe and Patrick also bring along a strange friend named Biaggio (Moises Arias). The three seem to be having the time of their lives without anyone telling them what to do and having guests over whenever they want to until a girl named Kelly (Erin Moriarty) gets in the way of their friendship and disrupts the balance of their kingdom.
The Kings of Summer works thanks to some great performances from the trio of friends who bring a sense of nostalgia to the viewers' senses simply by playing and running around in the woods with swords and sticks. Those unscripted moments in which the kids simply goof around with one another are the best. Arias is really hilarious and he seems to steal every scene here. Robinson also gives a strange performance in the lead role. The film is easy going with likable characters and some wonderful cinematography. It is just great to look at and it completely surprised me at times with some of the turns the story took. It wasn't one of those predictable coming of age films and I really had a fun time. I wouldn't be surprised if The Kings of Summer ends up in many peoples' top 10 list at the end of the year because it is a crowd pleaser.