Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Kings of Summer
The film is about three high school students named Joe, Patrick and Biaggio who decide they want to run away and build a house in the forest. It starts when Joe, unable to put up with his widowed father, runs out one night to go to a party with friends. On the way home, he gets lost and comes across a clearing in the woods. He goes back with his friends, and pitches them the idea of living there. At first they pass it off as just a fun idea, but then decide they want to do it for real.
The Kings of Summer does a great job of balancing out its characters. On the one hand, you get why the boys decide to run away. To them, their parents are unbearable to be around. For example, Joe is constantly butting heads with his dad, who comes off as gruff and over-intrusive. On the other hand, the film doesn't try to vilify the parents, it just makes them the sort of parents a teenager would want to rebel against.
Something about this film reminded me of the movie Adventureland, and I think it's that both build upon the idea of having a truly memorable summer, without feeling as if the filmmakers are being nostalgic for their own youth. Kings of Summer is a fun story that does a great job of building upon its premise. Yes, there are bits of drama in the story, (after all, it is a film about kids running away from home,) but overall its a lighthearted, fun, escapist comedy. It's the perfect movie for a warm summer night, or alternatively, a freezing cold night in the dead of winter when you want to watch something to remind you what the warm summer sun feels like.
There were two stand out performances in this movie. First, there's Nick Offerman as Frank, Joe's dad. Okay, I'm guessing I already lost a few of you at the mention of Nick Offerman's name, as you likely just left to check showtimes to see when this movie is playing next. For the rest of you, Offerman does some well balanced acting. I haven't actually watched him on Parks and Recreation, but I know his character on that show has earned him a pretty big following, and from this movie, I can see why. He delivers some hilariously deadpan insults to the other characters, especially at one of the cops who's trying to find his son. However, despite how intolerable he is to the other characters, you still end up feeling sympathy for him.
The other great performance was by Moises Arias, who plays Biaggio, the third kid in the trio. His character is the kid everybody knew in high school that just lurks about, and seems incapable of doing or saying anything that doesn't come off as completely weird. (I suspect some people I went to high school with might accuse me of being that guy, but lets move on, shall we?) I don't think I've seen somebody do as good a job at stealing every scene he's in since McLovin in Superbad. Biaggio does everything with an insane level of intensity, while at the same time being somewhat absurdly dressed in about every scene. I'm sure we're going to see a lot more of all three of the actors who play the boys in this movie, but I think this movie will be a breakout film for Arias.
So far, Kings of Summer has been among the best movies I've seen this summer. It's been a while since we've seen a movie become a true sleeper hit, jumping from the indie cinemas and working its way up the box office rankings, and it would be awesome if a movie like this pulled it off. I think the only reason this didn't get a wider initial release was because it was the debut film for both the director and writer. However, it's such a polished film, you wouldn't know it. We'll hopefully be seeing more from them in the future.