The Kings of Summer (2013)

Movie

The Kings of Summer

For some reason I’m having trouble finding words to describe The Kings of Summer – this would mark my fourth attempt to start this review and it seems I’m not doing a good job with it. The irony of this situation is the fact that the movie was really good, I pretty much loved it to a point of perfection (I gave it 4,5 stars on Letterboxd) but now, even after two cups of coffee, I’ve lost part of my ability to express my love for this feelgood movie about boys becoming men.

The first thought that came to mind after watching this movie was that The Kings of Summer resembled Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom: both have heart, lightness and that kind of dry-sarcastic humor that I absolutely love. Yet, while Moonrise Kingdom focused on even younger kids and their forbidden love, The Kings of Summer focuses on teenage boys and their friendship to each other as well as their relationship with their parents. In addition, the latter is also more realistic and portrays the kind of story that you believe to be true, even though there were some plot errors and couple of questionable decisions which I will discuss later on. The fact of the matter is that The Kings of Summer is a story that I can relate to, even though I’m a girl and I never ran away from home, and that is certainly something that makes this movie special.

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Part of the charm The Kings of Summer has is because of its great young cast. Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso are both quite new to the whole movie scene, Robinson especially, but it seems as if they’ve done this for years. Great chemistry and believable emotions between these two actors was what makes The Kings of Summer one of the best movies I’ve seen lately. Obviously it helps to have a really good script to work with, though in many of the scenes Robinson and Basso were showing strong emotions without delivering any lines. If I had to choose, which I don’t necessarily like to do, I’d say Robinson was the strongest out of the two but Basso was almost equally as good. As one might notice, I haven’t mentioned the third actor, Moises Arias, who was apart of their on-screen group and for good reason, he was the weak link. Sure, his character’s lack of appeal was partly the result of the script, but I personally think the performances by Robinson and Basso worked against Arias. Just a little though.

Since I started with actors, I might as well continue with the supporting roles which were brought to us by two great actors (who happened to be married in real life) – Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. Again, the script itself allowed these to be very funny and sarcastic, but I can’t imagine anybody being as funny as Offerman with those dry-sarcastic-jokes due to his facial expressions. And there’s something about Mullally’s voice that adds to the character, especially when the character is an overprotective mom with a very weird sense of humor. The scene where Offerman, Mullally and Mark Evan Jackson (who portrayed Mullally’s husband) are in the police station is hands down the funniest moment in the movie.

Moving on from the endless praise for the actors, I might as well start praising the cinematography before I get to the plot itself. Now, I already mentioned that these boys run away from home but what I neglected to mention was the fact that they went to live in the woods. Right from the start I knew that the movie was going to be beautiful to look at, and I was right – the scenery and the nature which was captured by the cinematographer Ross Riege, made me miss our summer house in the countryside. The endless fields, the river, the fresh green trees – nobody can deny the fact that The Kings of Summer looks amazing. Most importantly, it has that summer feel to it, especially the late night red flare from the sun setting and the early bright glare from the sun when it’s rising – The Kings of Summer has definitely put the emphasis on the warm tones which create that sunny feeling.

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The final segment of this extremely long review is a short plot criticism – yes, I loved The Kings of Summer because it made me feel good and it reminded me my childhood, but I can’t say it was perfect to every extent. There were small questionable things regarding the parents actually searching for their missing kids. The focus was on the boys, indeed, and yet, I didn’t really believe that they could have lived there for that long without anybody finding them. I didn’t let it bother me that much, mostly because I really wanted to like the movie, and also because mid-way through the movie, I forgot about it. Eventually I remembered and now I can’t seem to shake it off but it doesn’t really matter in the end. It’s still a strong story and I like how it all played out. The final scene where the two main characters of Robinson and Basso become friends again (tiny spoiler) is such a strong and honest interpretation of friendship that it makes up for the small little mistakes The Kings of Summer has. And I’m glad it does because I really liked it.

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    vinnieh
    September 21, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Excellent review, I’d never heard of it until I read your post.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      September 21, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      Thanks! I can’t recall how I stumbled on this movie but I’m glad I did. And glad to recommend it to others.

  • Reply
    karamelkinema
    September 21, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    I actually seen Robinson in sitcom Melissa and Joey before so i am actually impressed by his acting here. That being said, i really think Biaggio actually the one that balances out the other two. I adore him.

    And just like you, Ray. This film remind me of my own childhood, not the running away part, but exploring nature and made it into my own fantasy land. Actually as i’m writing this comment there are elements of it that made me think of Bridge of Terabithia as well. πŸ™‚

    Nice review! Glad you enjoyed the film!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      September 21, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      I think Biaggio’s character was too unreal for me hence my lack of love.

      And Bridge to Terabithia is such a sad movie, gosh.. now you made me sad.

      Thanks!

  • Reply
    Brittani Burnham
    September 21, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Wonderful review! I haven’t really heard of this one either, but I adored Moonrise Kingdom. I think I will definitely give this one a try.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      September 21, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      Definitely take a look, I think you will like it!

  • Reply
    CMrok93
    September 22, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Good review Ray. While I didn’t think this was all that memorable or anything, I still liked its message and view of teenagers. However, compared to the other coming-of-agers we’ve had in the past couple of months, it does seem a bit like light material.

    • Reply
      mettelray
      September 22, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      I haven’t seen other coming-of-age ones yet.. so maybe this stood out because I saw it first? But I also prefer lighter films at times so, maybe it was my mood for something uplifting rather than deep, dark and profound.
      Thanks for the comment!

  • Reply
    Mr Rumsey
    September 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    This sounds like something I should definitely check out!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      September 22, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      You do that! Let me know what you think. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    ruth
    September 27, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Wonderful indie film. It might end up on my favorite list of the year. I like the honest portrayal of young love and friendship. It’s also beautifully shot.

  • Reply
    Everybody’s Talkin’ 9 – 27 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective
    October 1, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    […] see that just continually eludes me. This year I think it’s going to be THE KINGS OF SUMMER. Mettel Ray’s warm reaction to the film just makes feel that much more out of the […]

  • Reply
    Month in Review: September | French Toast Sunday
    October 1, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    […] Mettel Ray was smitten with this under the radar indie film. Review Quote: “The fact of the matter is that The Kings of Summer is a story that I can relate to, even though I’m a girl and I never ran away from home, and that is certainly something that makes this movie special.” Read her review for Kings of Summer. […]

  • Reply
    Tim The Film Guy
    January 17, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    Loved this film, plenty of funny moments and the drama impressed me πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Ankur
    February 8, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Nice review !! loved the movie a well !!
    I could feel what a guy would go through when your first crush wakes your best friend
    to have a walk on a cold night !!

    • Reply
      mettelray
      February 9, 2014 at 12:35 AM

      Horrible feeling indeed. He played that scene so well!

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