'The Kings of Summer' review: Indie gem of a nostalgic teen adventure
Nostalgic without manipulation, funny without compromising dramatic elements and an overall fun adventure - 'The Kings of Summer' is a great addition to the coming-of-age genre.
In short: three teenage boys - Joe (Nick Robinson), his best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and strange classmate Biaggio (Moises Arias) - frustrated with living with their 'oppressive' parents, decide to runaway and live together, alone in middle of the woods. (watch the trailer)
The greatest accomplishment of 'Kings' is its blend of comedy and drama. At its core, this is a drama about teens who feel so alienated from their parents they run away. This film, however, keeps an adventurous, fun tone by surrounding its main cast - who carry the more dramatic elements - with great comedic performances. A number of talented actors - including Alison Brie('Mad Men,' 'Community'), Mary Lynn Rajskub ('24') and Megan Mullally ('Childrens Hospital') - are solid in their supporting roles.
While the main story focuses on Joe's relationship with his friends and family, 'Parks & Recreation' star Nick Offerman - who plays Joe's father - does a superb job of anchoring the film's more dramatic elements. Moises Arias is incredible as the peculiar, hilarious teen who tags along for Joe and Patrick's adventure. Offerman injects biting sarcasm to his miserable character and Arias has his own heartfelt moments.
'Kings' taps into a nostalgic feeling that most coming-of-age films try to force but never truly realize. Most of these movies use era-specific soundtracks or pop culture references to create an artificial sentimentality that is usually surface only. This film ties into the timeless feeling of wanting to be treated like an adult, while simultaneously having a lot of growing up left to do. It relates the frustration of being a teen at a deeper level than most of its competition achieves.
Final verdict: 'The Kings of Summer' is royalty within the coming-of-age movie genre.