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Thursday, 06 June 2013 23:00

‘Kings of Summer’ does for 2013 what ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ did for 2012

‘Kings of Summer’ does for 2013 what ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ did for 2012
Written by Martha K. Baker
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About this Media...

  • Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
  • Dates: Opened June 7, 2013

Need a break from sequels about hangovers and fast cars? Need a movie that is so well written that you’ll want to see it twice to catch all the good lines? Then “The Kings of Summer” is the indy movie for you, a film that sneaks into the summer roster this year the way “Moonrise Kingdom” did last year.

The kings of the title are actually two teen-age boys, one toe -- or toe-like-unit-- dipped into puberty, leaving less blood for their boy brains. Joe Toy is irritated by everything his widowed father does, and Frank Toy is not all that thrilled with his son’s time-wasting. So Joe leaves the shower where he’s sought self-pleasure at the expense of the house’s utility bills, and declares himself free of his father. He invites Patrick, his best bud, to join him in abandoning their parents in order to live in the woods. They are accompanied by the weird kid, Biaggio. They are not a trio of Thoreaus -- unless one recalls that Henry David set out for the woods that were but a few feet from home.

The kings build a house, a tree house. They stock it with overstock from the home larders, and they set up housekeeping.

So many things make “The Kings of Summer” affecting entertainment. One of those is that, unlike many shows, the plot does not leave out the grown-ups -- to everyone’s bewilderment and our entertainment. Another good thing is the grand acting. Nick Robinson is excellent as adolescent Joe Toy. Gabriel Basso, an actor from St. Louis, has distinguished himself on “The Big C,” but here he is too old and too muscular to be totally believable as Patrick. Moises Arias, seen on television’s “The Middle” and “Hannah Montana,” is perfect as the weird-o. Among the adults, Nick Offerman is a wonder as Joe’s dad; Offerman’s wife, Megan Mullally, works well as another parent. Allison Brie, of “Community” and “Mad Men,” has one of the best lines as Joe’s sister when she responds to her father’s query, “Am I being a bastard?”

Her response was written by Chris Galletta, who produced a wonderful screenplay, right down to the lines pairing masturbation and ecology and lines for the pizza guy; Galletta leaves plenty for the audience to work out instead of hammering down points. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, known for short, comic films, does a grand job of being economical, especially in cross-cutting between boys and their parents. Despite the spotlight on boys, “The Kings of Summer” is not targeted at the 18- to 25-year-old male demographic alone. It’s got something for everyone, and it’s got it good.  

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