Sundance Film Review: The Kings of Summer (2013)

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Gabriel Basson, Moises Arias and Nick Robinson in The Kings of Summer (2013)
If Moonrise Kingdom and Stand By Me got together and had a wild one night stand, their lovechild might be The Kings of Summer. Throw in a little The Mosquito Coast and you pretty much have a surefire recipe for this Sundance favourite. The Kings of Summer asks the question of what happens when three teenage boys, find themselves bored and fed up during the summer in Ohio? They secretly build a house in the middle of the woods and then run away to together and live in their new house...obviously. Early reviews of the The Kings of Summer likened the film to a modern-day Stand By Me and while there's no dead body, and Kiefer Sutherland isn't waiting around to beat some ass, the bro bonding in this coming-of-age film quite possibly rivals that of Wil Wheaton & Co. The Kings of Summer, or as it was titled at the time, Toy's House, was the first film I saw at Sundance this past February and it was without a doubt the most entertaining film of the entire festival. 

Joe  (Nick Robinson) lives under the strict ruling of his father (Nick Offerman), while his best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basson) can't get away from his smothering parents (Megan Mullally  and Marc Evan Jackson). Together, with the help of an oddball peer, Biaggio (Moises Arias), the boys start building a house in the middle of the woods in secret, with the intention of leaving their real homes once its completed. When the boys move into their new home and abandon their cushy lifestyles, the parents are left to question their own ways of dealing with their kids. Coming-of-age movies are not uncommon at Sundance so where The Kings of Summer stands out is with its wonderful sense of humour. While I was definitely expecting some comedy, considering real-life husband and wife Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally  (Parks and Recreation and Will & Grace respectively) share the screen, it's relative newcomer Moises Arias who really stood out as the obviously insane but incredibly well-meaning Biaggio. For years, Moises Arias has been engrained in my mind as the annoying as hell Rico from Disney's television show, Hannah Montana (I swear to God I was forced to watch it against my will), but I think now, Arias will be known for this iconic role as Biaggio. 

It's not all fun and games though for these boys. As always, the sacred bro-hood of the house in woods is split by none other than a beautiful girl. This is where I feel the film lost me a bit, but, since I'm easily swayed by witty dialogue and breathtaking scenery, I can forgive this one little plot device. Overall, the look and feel of The Kings of Summer is absolutely beautiful, with an incredible soundtrack which I need asap, and enchanting cinematography which lends to the film a very strong but appealing indie look. For the people turned off by the films that are dubbed by its audiences as "artsy" or "quirky", The Kings of Summer is really in its own genre, that is to say an independent film with a mass audience appeal.

For his debut feature, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts couldn't have a picked a better film to work on. The unique blend of dry and outlandish humour paired with wonderfully developed characters and a setting to die for (shot in Ohio!) makes The Kings of Summer one of the best films I've seen this year. I can't wait to see it again in theatres and be able to share this film with everyone.  

My Rating: 8 cats out of 10

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