Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Kings of Summer


Rites of Passage

9.0 out of 10 | DVD or RENTAL

Rated: R Language and some teen drinking
Release Date: May 31, 2013 (limited)
Runtime: 1 hour 33 minutes

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writers: Chris Galletta
Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Megan Mullally

SYNOPSIS:  Three teenagers, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

REVIEW: Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of several season 2 Funny or Die Presents episodes, takes a film script from newcomer Chris Galletta that chronicles a summer where three boys strike out into the woods to become independent and to become men.

Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) is an adolescent teen who is sick of the way the relationship with his father Frank (Ken Offerman, 21 Jump Streethas deteriorated since the death of his mother. When his father tries to bring back family game Joe acts out against his father. One night after a beach keg party, Joe and a strange young man named Biaggio (Moises Arias) find themselves lost in the woods of Ohio. Joe comes to a clearing and instantly realizes that he wants to build a house there. Talking his best friend Patrick Keenan (Gabriel Basso) into joining him, Joe, Patrick, and Biaggio start construction on the house using scrap materials and ingenuity. When finished, the trio leave their parents houses without a word and move into their new structure to live off the land and to answer to no one. While Joe's dad and sister Heather (Alison Brie, The Five-Year Engagement) join Patrick's parents, Mrs Keenan (Megan Mullally) and Mr. Keenan (Marc Evan Jackson), at the police to try to find out the trio whereabouts, Joe and Patrick's lifelong friendship may not be able to hold when Joe takes a fancy to a girl named Kelly (Erin Moriarty)

With wisps of Moonlight Kingdom, Lord of the Flies, and Stand by Me, The Kings of Summer (Previously known as Toy's House) Is a tale as much about the growing desires of independence as it is about the familial ties that bind. Laced with drama and plenty of humor, The Kings of Summer delights. Most of the adventures of these boys are as ridiculous as they are adventurous. Nick Robinson, Moishe Arias, and 
Gabriel Basso defy the typical teenager by leaving their video games, warm beds, and prepared meals behind In favor of the rustic outdoors, independence, and adventure. Moises Arias, playing Biaggio, is the comedic center for the trio of boys. This floppy-eared, slight build of a boy is happy to be a man among other those he considers friends. Although Joe and Patrick don't initially know what to make of Biaggio, the young androgynous boy makes up for it with his guile and enthusiasm. His ability to camouflage himself into nature is just one of the uproarious talents that the character has. Ken Offerman and Megan Mullally are equal funny in their respective child-rearing methods and subsequent pursuit to find their child.

Starting off with an opening scene Joe, 
Biaggio, and Patrick dancing and drumming on a rusting pipeline in the forest, The Kings of Summer represents the rites of passage from childhood to manhood. Sometimes manhood is earned and sometimes it is thrust upon you. In this case, Joe takes his manhood and independence by force, the house in the clearing in the woods his crowning achievement. He takes it as an opportunity to wrestle freedom away from his father's house and rules. The other's motivations are sometimes unclear - Patrick is there as Joe's best friend and support, while Biaggio is just looking for a place to belong. 

The Kings of Summer is wrought with adolescent conflict. From the separation of the son from under his father's rule, to the attraction of a school friend girl who seems to be unavailable, to dealing with an imagined betrayal by his best friend, the film has the heart, story, and visual appeal to keep the audience's interest.

Ohio was a wonderful choice as the backdrop for the film. A slice of small town suburban life with lush foliage, winding paths, and quaint houses - the sedate character of the story visually speaks louder than more widely used locations in Canada, out west, or even in the northeast. It allows the viewer to believe that this tale could actually happen to a trio of boys in this day and age.
The Kings of Summer may no longer be a toy house, but it is a treasure chest of fine acting, a strong accessible story, and the perfect blend of drama and humor. It delights as a fine tale of growing up, anchored by a talented cast and passionate director.

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