Movie Review: Kings of Summer

By Stephen Rebello

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<p><i>The Kings of Summer</i> is a sweet, smart, highly entertaining little oddball movie.<br></p>


Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts Rating: R Studio: CBS Films Stars: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman

The Kings of Summer is a sweet, smart, highly entertaining little oddball movie.  It’s a coming-of-age comedy (don’t wince) about three 14-year-old high school guys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias) at the end of the school year who, stuck with their eccentric families, run off and hide in the woods, build a fort, create their own brotherhood and live off the land – well, with occasional secret visits to Boston Market, anyway. 

Things go askew courtesy of a copperhead snake, the unpredictability of nature and a beautiful girl (Erin Moriarty).  Chris Galletta’s screenplay, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, somehow manages to mash Lord of the Flies with Goonies and Stand by Me, cross-pollinated by the spirit of John Hughes movies, with a sprinkle of Wes Anderson-esque quirk and whimsy.  So long as you’re not troubled by pesky reality – the police don’t comb the woods for three missing 14-year-olds?  These teen dudes can live without texting or cellphones?  They don’t even let their families know they’re alive?  Why is the subject of one of the character’s possible homosexuality or cystic fibrosis raised, then played-off? 

The slight, likeable movie stays airborne on the charm and skill of all three young actors, the beauty of their surroundings and the cutting, very funny dialogue. Nick Offerman plays Robinson’s ramrod single dad, while Megan Mullaly and Marc Evan Johnson are Basso’s parents and as funny and skilled as they are, they’re still stuck playing overly familiar, one-note caricatures. First time director Vogt-Roberts sometimes leans too hard on the lyricism and the film’s symbols clash very loudly.  But, never mind.  In a moviegoing summer full of hot air, Kings of Summer feels like a cool, welcome breeze.


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