The Kings of Summer
A welcome addition to the coming-of-age genre, starring Nick Robinson and Nick Offerman
The coming-of-age genre gets a welcome new addition with Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ massively enjoyable The Kings of Summer. Thanks in no small part to its trio of hugely likeable teenage leads, the film breezes along, mixing comedy with drama to often seamless effect, while exploring the kind of issues that viewers can all find relatable.
When Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) finds himself increasingly frustrated by his overbearing father (Parks & Recreation’s Nick Offerman), he enlists best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and quirky tag-along Biaggio (Moises Arias) to build a house in the woods, where they can escape from their parents and be masters of their own destiny. But while initially fun and freeing, the ensuing adventure proves to be a test of their friendship as well as their ability to handle all that the Ohio wild can throw at them.
While it’s true that the spirit of past coming-of-age movies (from Stand By Me to the work of Wes Anderson) looms large, The Kings of Summer has enough in its own locker to feel that it’s trying to offer some interesting variations, even if the ending lacks the courage of some of its earlier convictions. The film's achievements are all the more notable given that Vogt-Roberts is making his feature debut, while Chris Galletta’s script is also his first – these are clearly two names to keep an eye on.
But of equal note are the young players, whose depiction of the various trials and tribulations of growing up are spot-on, and whose friendship is entirely believable. The offbeat Arias may steal a lot of the more memorable comedic moments, but it’s Robinson and Basso who provide the heart and soul, especially once ‘love’ threatens to come between them. Offerman’s memorably sarcastic dad also adds extra value to a film that has lots to recommend it.