Film Review: In Youth, It’s Good to Be ‘The Kings of Summer’

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CHICAGO – Real summer movies shouldn’t be about superheroes or overwrought science fiction, it should be about long days working that trigger in the animal soul that awakens a sun-warmed spirit. Writer Chris Galletta and Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts crown “The Kings of Summer.” Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The film harkens back to an innocence of escape, with a desire to develop a separate identity during the sometimes painful adolescence years. In the hands of Galletta and Roberts, this film becomes absurd and symbolic – sometimes overreaching in both arenas. It is the cast of the three “escapees” that bring the ideals expressed to life and wear them as badges of honor. Surprisingly (and in opposition to its “R” rating) the actors provoke an innocence behind all their decisions, counter-reacting to parental guidance in both legitimate and off-putting ways. Although it has elements of realism, the filmmakers decision to pour on the quirkiness tampers that truth a bit. But for all ages, it is nostalgia without being nostalgic, which places it right in the moment.

Joe (Nick Robinson) is clashing with his widower father Frank (Nick Offerman), a single Dad who is still processing his circumstance. Although his sister Heather (Alison Brie), tries to be a mediator, the situation starts to rise to an inevitable blow up point. Joe’s best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) has a similar problem at a different part of the parental spectrum. His parents smother him so much that he can barely breathe.

This leads to the escape. The two boys find an appropriate plot of land in the back woods of their small Ohio town and build a ramshackle home. They are joined in the scheme by their strange classmate Biaggio (Moises Arias), who is not so much escaping as just joining into an adventure. The boys are listed as missing, and several classmates find out about the hideout. One of them, named Kelly (Erin Moriarty), becomes both an enabler and the object of Nick’s affection. Is it about the girl or the freedom?

“The Kings of Summer” expands its release in Chicago on June 7th. See local listings for show times and theaters. Featuring Moises Arias, Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Justin Vogt-Roberts, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Alison Brie. Screenplay by Chris Galletta. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Kings of Summer”

Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Robinson
Royalty: Patrick (Gabriel Basso, left), Biaggio (Moises Arias) and Joe (Nick Robinson) are ‘The Kings of Summer’
Photo credit: CBS Films

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Kings of Summer”

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