The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Kings of Summer | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Kings of Summer

Three teenage boys leave their parents to live in the woods.

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Megan Mullaly, Alison Brie, Craig Cackowski

Teenage friends Joe (Robinson) and Patrick (Basso) are fed up of living under the rule of their protective parents. One night, Joe and a strange kid called Biaggio (Arias) come upon a clearing in the local woods. Joe decides it would make the perfect location to build a home and convinces Patrick to join him and Biaggio in constructing a cabin. Once the work is completed, the trio run away from their parents and move into their new home. Their new-found free and idyllic life is disrupted, however, when Kelly (Moriarty) comes between Joe and Patrick.
An indie pseudo-arthouse take on the coming-of-age genre, 'Kings of Summer' is an instantly forgettable yet somewhat enjoyable low stakes dramedy in the vein of last year's 'Moonrise Kingdom', though thankfully largely eschewing the style-over-substance approach that makes Wes Anderson's work so difficult to embrace.
In terms of plot structure, Vogt-Roberts' debut is something of a mess, lacking the appropriate level of focus to keep you involved in the story. The director comes from a background of comedic web shorts and this is reflected in how 'Kings of Summer' plays out in a series of comic vignettes, switching attention from the trio of boys to their concerned parents.
Despite the lack of meat on the bones of its story, Vogt-Roberts' film has enough charm to keep you interested. Robinson and Basso are impressive in the lead roles and it's a nice change to see a film that doesn't ask the question of whether the protagonist will get the girl but rather how will he recover from the damage the girl has caused to his friendship.
The character of Biaggio, however, I found problematic, feeling like a concession to mainstream American comedy. We see this type of clownish, socially awkward, too often ethnic, character in every teen comedy and it feels out of place here.
While the story and characters may not linger too long in your mind, the cinematography of Ross Reige, capturing the beauty of the North Carolina woods in a manner Terence Malick would be proud of, most certainly will. His director owes him a big thank you.

Eric Hillis