The Kings of Summer
4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Jordan Vogt-Roberts
scr Chris Galletta
prd Tyler Davidson, John Hodges, Peter Saraf
with Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Erin Moriarty, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Marc Evan Jackson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Eugene Cordero, Nathan Keyes, Nicholas Rutherford
release UK Apr.13 slf, US 31.May.13
13/US CBS 1h33
The Kings of Summer
Best hideout ever: Arias, Basso and Robinson

offerman mullally rajskub
sundance london  fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Kings of Summer Witty direction and an exceptionally sharp script give this coming-of-age film a blast of originality that completely wins us over. There may be a few too many wacky touches, but overall the film is grounded in solid characters and hilariously squirm-inducing observations.

Teen Joe (Robinson) can't bear to be around his father Frank (Offerman), who takes out his grief over his wife's death on anyone at hand. To escape, Joe's sister (Brie) moves in with her goofy boyfriend (Cordero), and as school lets out for the summer, Joe decides to build a house in the woods. His best pal Patrick (Basso) is so stressed by his inane parents (Mullally and Jackson) that he's broken out in hives, so he decides to go along. As does Biaggio (Arias), a kid no one quite knows what to do with.

Yes, Biaggio adds a bit of Napoleon Dynamite nuttiness to what's otherwise a relatively honest exploration of excruciating adolescence. We can certainly identify with both Joe and Patrick as their parents relentlessly say all the wrong things. And even if the cabin they build is the stuff of teen boy fantasies, it comes from that identifiable youthful desire for independence and ownership. And it's played to perfection by Robinson and Basso, who add small character quirks that bring Joe and Patrick to vivid life even in the face of a shamelessly scene-stealing cast.

And the film is full of those, with Offerman walking off with most scenes through his deadpan delivery and little-boy insecurities. Mullally and Jackson deliver their smartly ridiculous dialog with straight-faced glee. And smaller roles draw huge laughs along the way. There's also a surprisingly strong female lead in Kelly (Moriarty), the woman Joe fantasises about even though she has eyes for other boys.

Director Vogt-Roberts skilfully balances all of these disparate elements: youthful comedy, darker drama, torturous romance, wacky farce. The film looks terrific, making the most of the wooded landscapes while adding some even more lushly shot dream sequences that give us a glimpse of the characters' inner hopes and fears. It's the kind of film that's so easy to identify with that it continually catches us by surprise. And between those revelatory moments, it keeps us laughing.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 22.Apr.13 slf

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall