Focusing on a trio of individuals, The Kings of Summer is a genuine and sweet movie which is filled with love and enough laughs to qualify itself as one of the better comedies of the year. That it does so with an innocent spirit and primarily focuses on three children is quite impressive. I really enjoyed The Kings of Summer and I recommend that you check it out, too.
The film begins with a couple of teenagers who are sick of their lives. The lead, Joe (Nick Robinson), has a father (Nick Offerman), with whom he doesn’t get along. The father is abrasive, sarcastic, and speaks his mind, which leads to many hilarious lines of dialogue. Another boy, Patrick (Gabriel Basso), has parents who treat him as if he’s still in the first grade. Both boys wish to be seen as more independent than their parental figures allow, so they decide to do what any intelligent person would do: run away from home and build a house in the woods where nobody will find them. They’ll live off the land and no longer have to deal with the rest of the world.
They’re joined by Biaggio (Moises Arias), a strange child who functions as the films “odd child,” which is someone who will spout off the weirdest lines which often have no relation to what’s going on at the time. The other two boys, best friends since forever, don’t have the heart to tell Biaggio to go home, so they permit him to live with them. Soon enough, they’re living their own lives, masters of nothing but their own well-being, and serving absolutely nobody.
Anyone who can get themselves into the mindset of a 12-year-old and can appreciate the desire for more independence will at least be able understand where these characters are coming from. That will allow you to enjoy watching them just go about their business in the woods. There are some sweet and some funny situations that occur, and seeing a film that treats its young subject matter with respect is something to admire. The Kings of Summer almost functions as a character study during the moments when its leads are in the woods.
Of course, the parents aren’t just going to sit back and let their children go missing, so the parents, all of whom are played by comedians, attempt to locate their children. It’s during these points when The Kings of Summer really shines. Because of the actors’ comedic backgrounds, the dialogue and delivery in these scenes is absolutely hilarious. If the film had featured more of these moments, I wouldn’t have complained, as they were the most enjoyable parts. They will make you laugh.
They also function as a nice contrast to the scenes in the woods. The film is far more dramatic when it’s focused on Joe, Patrick, and Biaggio. They all have different ideas, complicated relationships, and it all plays out in an interesting way. Nothing that happens in the film is terribly surprising, but it’s honest and I couldn’t help but enjoy almost every moment. The only problem that these sections of the film suffer from is being very repetitive. Much of the film feels like filler and we go through the same thing a few times before we reach our conclusion.
The coming-of-age story, along with the outsider adult perspective, allows The Kings of Summer to appeal to everyone. If it didn’t have a surprising amount of profanity — which helps with that genuine feeling; how many teenagers nowadays don’t curse incessantly? — it would be something that I would recommend for everyone. The potential is there for people of all ages to take something from this film, whether they be the troubled child or the parent who is either too controlling or doesn’t treat their child with the respect they deserve.
The reason it’s all successful is that everything is so believable, even if the premise really isn’t. How can three teenagers go live in the woods and actually survive? Somehow, The Kings of Summer makes us believe. The friendships, in both their highs and lows, feels true, and for a while you forget you’re watching a fictional story and not a documentary about a trio of kids who decided to run away and become sustainable in the middle of the forest.
The actors are all good. In the lead role, Nick Robinson reminded me of a young James Franco — even right down to having a similar smile. He’s a charming and charismatic actor. As his friend, Gabriel Basso shows potential, even if his role is less important. Moises Arias is hilarious even if he seems to exist solely for comedic relief. All of the adults are hilarious in supporting roles, and I would have liked to see more of them. When names like Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Marc Evan Jackson and Megan Mullally are all in your cast list, you should use them to their full extent.
The Kings of Summer is a good coming-of-age movie. It hits all the right notes and feels completely genuine, which is important here. This is a very funny, very sweet movie, and I really enjoyed watching it. It has good actors and it has a story which will resonate with the majority of people in the audience. It suffers from repetition in its story, leading to a lot feeling like filler, but it’s the enjoyable kind of filler that is really tough to hate.