Monday, February 10, 2014

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: The Kings of Summer

Boys will be boys. The opening scene of this week's top pick "The Kings of Summer" reinforces this saying with the image of our 3 protagonists goofing around in the woods, banging on a pipe and dancing to the music. Some may find the notion a bit reductive, but I can't think of any other way to describe the essence of this joyous little film.
That brief opening is actually taken from the midsection of the plot, after Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and Biaggio (Moises Arias) have accomplished their goal of setting up a hideaway in the woods. They're living the dream of adolescents the world over, running away from their annoying parents and building their own home. It's the summer and they just wanna have some fun. There's not much else to the story apart from this adventure, but that youthful delight is surprisingly enough to sustain interest.
Indeed, it's the simplicity of the narrative that makes this so great. The film is a terrific ode to boyhood, perfectly capturing the behaviour of your typical young male. Their mischievous, rebellious nature and sense of camaraderie is instantly identifiable and relatable. Many films have tapped into this, but rarely has this perspective ever been so pure. Specifically, most teen movies incorporate sex, drugs and general debauchery. In a way then, the innocence of this story is its own form of rebellion. Here it's all harmless fun. They're not skipping school like Ferris Bueller or wreaking havoc in the neigbourhood. This is true friendship, where each other's company is enough.
One can easily understand their old-fashioned enjoyment, as these quirky personalities provide more than enough entertainment on their own. Arias is particularly hilarious as Biaggio (the wildcard of the group), providing endless laughs with his quirky demeanor. In fact, the film is filled with excellent comedic talent, including the likes of Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson as the parents. They all play their part in making this an enjoyable watch from start to finish.
Really, this lite comedy would have been practically perfect if it weren't for the disappointingly conventional third act. As if to devalue the worth of merely conveying "youthful joie de vivre", it inserts the usual coming of age elements to add a sense of poignancy. It's not egregious, but the sudden rush of drama felt unnecessary. Thankfully, it didn't damage the film too much, as the intended feeling of the film is still intact. It's awesome to be young and carefree. Sigh.


  1. Still a really good memory from 2013!

    1. Yes, I wish I had watched it earlier! Would have made my Best of 2013 list.

  2. God, I really liked this movie. And it's getting higher the more I think of it. Coming of age films are not particularly unusual but this one works so well for me where many have not.

    The final act doesn't bug mostly because the film itself is playing around so much with magical realism and then that final nod the two boys have in the final scene when their car drives off is such a real moment of friendship - not necessarily lost, but changed.

    (How hilarious is Megan Mullally and her line readings here, though?)

    1. Yeh, there's just something so gratifying about this film. That final scene is nice moment indeed.

      Yes, Megan Mullally cracked me up with her line readings. She was so fun, to the point where I almost wondered "Why would he want to run away from those parents. They seem so cool!"

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