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The Kings of Summer

Why live when you can rule?

Like the fading of day into twilight, the ephemeral nature of youth is deftly captured in The Kings of Summer. The coming-of-age film is poignant and comical, sitting squarely on that threshold, focusing on the time when a teen is part boy, part man and all adolescent. That transitional period is encompassed in a pivotal summer. Fourteen-year-old Joe (Nick Robinson) has been chafing at the gruff intrusions of his tough father, Frank (Nick Offerman), ever since his mother died and his older sister Heather (Alison Brie) moved in with her boyfriend. Joe's best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) has his own parental issues. An only child, his nerdy parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) hover constantly, smothering him with their meddling. Joe is eager to escape life with his curmudgeonly dad, so he convinces Patrick to run away to a clearing in the woods. It is there they can build a homestead, Joe insists, and embark on becoming men. The pair sneaks tools from their parents' garages and build a large shack, faking their disappearance and intending to live their summer free from intrusion. They are joined by their odd, diminutive classmate, Biaggio (Moises Arias). Neither knows how this kid got involved in their plans — he just appeared one day — but Joe is afraid of what Biaggio might do if they rebuff him. Most of Biaggio's antics are hilarious — particularly his dancing and his deadpan non sequiturs. The concept of a household in the great outdoors managed by three teen boys is rife with humorous possibilities. Their adventure combines weird domesticity with awkward survivalist attempts. Even before running away, Joe has had a crush on Kelly (Erin Moriarty) and decides their woodsy idyll needs a female touch. But when Kelly comes to visit, things start to unravel. While the premise sounds outlandish, the concerns are authentic: becoming independent, struggling to cope with flawed parents, allowing a childhood friendship to take new turns and navigating the complicated world of romance. No huge realizations occur, just small but significant changes. That's why this quirky story captivates. Eccentric adults in town verge on caricature, but the three boys' performances are markedly natural. With its slim plot, this is a character-driven tale fueled by acidly funny dialogue, with the best of it delivered by Offerman. The story is in the tradition of Stand by Me, with the offbeat edge of Moonrise Kingdom, yet it's not derivative. It's a fresh, whimsical take on adolescent angst. Fourteen is a tricky age to convey, but director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and writer Chris Galletta nail it, with wonderful absurdist humor. Courtesy: Claudia Puig, USA Today Official Trailer
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Directed by: 
Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Running Time: 
Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie
Screenplay by: 
Chris Galletta

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