In this coming of age drama, high school student Joe (Nick Robinson) is unhappy with life at home since his mother ‘s death, while dad (Nick Offerman) has turned his grief to anger. A family game of Monopoly including a mostly absent older sister turns into a fight, with Joe exploding and calling the police, claiming his dad attacked him.
Meanwhile Joe’s long-time friend Patrick is bristling at his parents’ well-meaning attempts to control him.
One night out in the woods they come across a beautiful glade and Joe hatches a plan for escape, with the goal of building a house and leaving his oppressive father once and for all. They pick up the supremely oddball character Biaggio (hilarious performance by Moises Arias), and together the three disappear into the night and begin their adolescent adventure.
The parents call the police and two self-important cops are assigned to the case, bringing some light relief to what might otherwise be heavy material.
The boys try to develop survival skills, and begin to discover what masculinity and responsibility might mean. Patrick, more easy going than his troubled friend, copes better in the wilderness.
When Joe invites Kelly (Erin Moriarty), a girl he has a crush on, to come and join the boys in the woods, jealousy erupts as it becomes clear she is attracted to Patrick.
Joe explodes and betrays some of the same controlling, petulant traits as his father.
First-time director Jordan Vogt-Roberts gives us many beautifully crafted scenes and arresting moments, such as Patrick playing a violin alone in the woods.
However the over-written script cramps the ability of the audience to get the symbolism and visual metaphors on its own, as the writer tries a little too hard to explain all the emotions at play.
As a light coming of age comedy drama, Kings of Summer has lots to offer. Although it doesn’t quite achieve the emotional punch it is reaching for, it certainly makes you laugh.
Review by Joe Gill
Y’s Movie Choice: We’re The Millers
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