Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Megan Mullally, Marc Evan Jackson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Craig Cackowski, Nathan Keyes, Priscilla Kaczuk, Alison Brie, Eugene Cordero, Gillian Vigman, Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani
Written by: Chris Galletta
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
MPAA Rating: R for language and some teen drinking
Running Time: 93
Date: 05/31/2013

The Kings of Summer (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Boys in the Woods

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Coming-of-age movies are generally a dime-a-dozen, but with The Kings of Summer, first-time writer Chris Galletta and "Funny or Die" veteran director Jordan Vogt-Roberts have created a breath of fresh air. The witty characters in this movie take action in their world, and are allowed to succeed and fail alternately. They feel real and sympathetic, in spite of the cartoony nature of the humor.

At the end of his lackluster freshman year in high school, Joe (Nick Robinson) has become fed up with his cynical father (Nick Offerman). His friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) is so annoyed by his strange, cheery parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) that he's getting a rash. Fortunately, Joe has the perfect solution: they will run away into the woods, build their own house and live like kings. The very strange, philosophical Biaggio (Moises Arias) joins them. Their adventure works, and they begin to learn new and interesting ways of being in the world. But at the same time, new frictions come up: friendships are tested, and parents never stop looking for their missing kids.

Additionally, though the parents are definitely stereotypes, they are also smart and allowed to fail, and they likewise earn our sympathy. The director employs many simple moments of life unrelated to the plot -- such as the opening "drumming" scene -- to add a specific summery, relaxed, wide-open mood to the movie. Additionally, the casting and performances are faultless, and the three young leads make a terrific comedy trio together, generating a specific, unique chemistry. The Kings of Summer could become a young person's classic, destined to be rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents a cool new Blu-ray set with lots of entertaining extras. The three main actors, the writer, and the director provide a commentary track. There are about 15 minutes of deleted scenes, and three short featurettes. Color and sound on the feature is sharp, with some subtle film grain-ish touches.

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