Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Kings of Summer: Movie Review


Funny, amusing and takes just a few simple mis-steps on the way to adulthood.
The Kings of Summer is your average coming-of-age film for teenage boys. Boys act like men; fathers act like boys and by the end they all will shave. They just have to survive girls, the wild and snakes. Does it sound like the earlier indie hit of the year Mud? That’s because it’s the same movie, just a little more comedic, simple and a little less revolutionary. 2013

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Screenplay by: Chris Galletta

Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias

Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias and Nick Robinson in eOne Films'
Joe (Nick Robinson) hates his father (Nick Offerman) because he’s an angry, sarcastic loser who offers rude comments more than advice. Patrick (Gabriel Basso) hates his parents (Megan Mullaly and Marc Evan Jackson) because they just don’t understand his teenage angst. I really wish the parents were supposed to be how the boys viewed them rather than as they actually were because that would have been even funnier. As is, they were still the funniest parts of the movie. Which raises another question – is this supposed to be a comedy, or could it be a dramatic tragedy that these very impressionable kids have no one to turn to for help and have to run away from society to find solace and meaning. But comedy was the chosen route and I ended up caring more for the parents than the protagonists.

The boys were funny too, but not as naturally comedic. The dialogue was a little too witty for their ripe old age of 15 and the filmmakers had an unnerving tendency to make all their jokes non-sequitors. Early on Joe and Patrick meet Biaggio whose entire character description is that he’s weird. He looks weird, he does weird stuff and he says weird things. That was the entirety of his character and that was the entire joke surrounding his character. Joe and Patrick act like teenage boys. And then the boys do some serious soul-searching. Really, now is the time for drama? Teenage boys are going to start pontificating on what life really means. I guess the comedy part was the realism, which is an odd choice.

Gabriel Basso and Erin Moriarty in eOne Films' THE KINGS OF SUMMER.
I don’t think the filmmakers trusted the abilities of their teenage actors. I don’t blame them, but it’s too bad because the result is around twenty montage scenes too many and everything is kept average, unoriginal and simple. I don’t mean that as an entirely negative thing. Average films in genres which have built-in audiences guaranteed to connect with the main characters are good. The boys are amusing, the parents are funny and The Kings of Summer take just a few simple mis-steps on their way to adulthood.

Similar Titles:

Mud (2012) - Arkansas, a boat, a tree, two boys, girls, love, snakes and Mud.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) - Uplifting teenage drama with humour, heart and soul.

Goats (2012) - A quirky comedy turns into a coming-of-age dramedy and gets a little lost on the way.

The Art of Getting By (2011) - Asking the question, "What's the point?" But then doesn't deliver much.