The Kings of Summer Review: Worthy of the Crown

The Kings of Summer Review: Worthy of the CrownWhen I was a kid growing up in Indiana, I had a huge field out back behind my house and in back of that field was a deep wooded ravine that fed into one of Indianapolis’ best (at the time) inner city parks. For weeks each spring, summer and fall, I would literally live in that ravine, building tree forts and rope swings and either by myself or with friends, I would live life as I saw fit. I was the King of this World that I had made for myself and I cherish those memories even today.

So, with that being said, my review of The Kings of Summer may be slanted, as I sort of lived it in my youth. I didn’t have an overbearing, if not misguided father (Nick Offerman) hounding me with his “my house, my rules” edicts, nor were my mother (Megan Mullaly) or dad (Marc Evan Jackson) constantly in my business and working to inadvertently stunt my social growth.

My home life was as normal as it could have been, but it’s not so for the kids in The Kings of Summer. When Joe Toy (Nick Robinson), his best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and some strange kid named Biaggio (Moises Arias) finally get to the breaking point in their respective families (save for Biaggio, who just shows up because he’s bored), they decide to strike out and build a house for themselves in the woods of North Central Ohio; free from restrictions and rules, and meddling, unreasonable authority. Joe, Patrick, and Biaggio, to a lesser extent, decide that they are ready to be their own men and they make it happen. And this is when the fun really begins.

The three boys scavenge materials from local businesses and build sites and soon, with crudely drawn building plans that Joe provides, they are able to complete their new home. Frank Toy (Offerman) knows his son didn’t run away and he refuses to press charges, trying to wait it out that his son will return. Patrick’s parents (Mullaly and Jackson) are far less trusting, unable to cope that their son would actually “run away.”

The Kings of Summer Review: Worthy of the Crown

All is well as the three boys learn to survive from borrowed library books on survival, and they learn to hunt from a Boston Market located just across the highway (off the menu, mind you). They live a carefree existence until Joe comes across Kelly (Erin Moriarty), a girl that he has had a crush on for as long as he can remember. When Kelly informs him that she and her boyfriend are broken up, Joe invites her into his kingdom in the woods and the ramifications of introducing this new “girl” element generates irrevocable damage to all involved. Friendships are broken and a kingdom falls.

The Kings of Summer works because it is timeless, heartfelt and real. This story could take place in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, or even tomorrow. Writer Chris Galletta and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts have created a world so believable that it transcends location and time. I think we have all dreamed of running away and creating a new life for ourselves at some point in our lives, and some of us have even done it. Galletta captures this brilliantly in his script and Vogt-Roberts makes it come to life with his brilliant use of nature as an element. It really is a marvel to behold.

Performances from actors and actresses known for their television work are spot on and help to create the fabric of this coming of age story. The soundtrack is mixed with a collection of great songs, new and old, and MGMT’s ‘The Youth’ is used brilliantly in one pivotal scene.

The Kings of Summer Review: Worthy of the Crown

Unfortunately, the fun of the movie does come to an end as real-world problems arise. I would have loved to keep watching these boys truly live and to experience their freedom, as it took me back to my childhood and made me long for those hot summer nights in a fort my friends and I had built in a 40ft. If The Kings of Summer could conjure up these memories so clearly, then it truly is a magical film and one that I highly, highly recommend.

The Kings of Summer is rated R and opens nationwide on June 7, 2013.

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