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Kings Of Summer

Should Rule Box Office

The Kings of Summer trailer
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The Kings of Summer
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Written by Chris Galletta
Starring: Nick Robinson, Moises Arias, Gabriel Basso, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Megan, Mullally
Music by Ryan Miller
Cinematography by Ross Riege
Editing by Terel Gibson
Running time:     93 minutes
Take The Plunge Into Summer By Eschewing The Blockbusters To Watch A Film With Dialogue, Wit, And Romance Wrapped Around A Coming-Of-Age Tale


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By Wayne Schutsky
Special for Modern Times Magazine

June 12, 2013 — In director Jordan Vogt-Roberts new film The Kings of Summer, cinema fans have a feel-good summer coming of age film with depth and conviction.

Unlike other young adult bildungsromans that have come around in recent years (Super 8, Adventureland), this film does not rely on nostalgia to connect with the audience. Rather, the story focuses squarely on a teenager who cannot wait to leave the past, and all of the cumbersome hassles that go with it, behind.

Instead of relying on the tropes of well-known Spielberg films from the 1980s, The Kings of Summer traverses well-known adolescent territory in a way that is quintessentially contemporary.

Warning: The next several paragraphs feature spoilers.

The plot follows Joe, a young ne’er-do-well, and his best friend Patrick as they venture into the forest surrounding their Ohio home town to escape their parents. After the latest in a long line of confrontations with his father, Joe, played by Nick Robinson decides to build his own home in a clearing in the woods that he randomly stumbled upon after a end of the school year kegger.

While Patrick is initially hesitant, his parents — played by comedic experts Megan Mullaly and Marc Evan Jackson — ceaselessly pester him and their small talk drives him to the woods.

Joining Patrick, played by Gabriel Basso, and Joe is the awkwardly lovable Biaggio, an enigma of a boy who serves as both a comedic foil and surprising moral compass.

While Joe’s carpentry skills are less than advanced (as evidenced by a woodshop final project), the group manages to cobble together quite the home by stealing supplies and material from their parents and construction sites around town.

The pacing of the film keeps the audience engaged by not lingering on any of the stereotypical teen conflicts too long. And this movie has them all. From parents to girls to becoming a man, The Kings of Summer is a Mark Twain-inspired tale for the 21st century.

The rest of the story is not quite revolutionary, but it is well-written, directed, and acted.

The conflict between Joe and his father is an especially poignant aspect of the movie. In the role of Joe’s father, Nick Offerman, known as the manly Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, shows he is more than a comedic actor, deftly portraying a tormented widower attempting to deal with his own demons and his rebelling son.

There is still a little Swanson in there, though, as Offerman’s character constantly belittles delivery men and police officers in the film, giving the audience a hint as to where Joe received his mean streak.

The young talent in the movie shows off chops beyond its years. While the audience may take the youngsters comedic talent for granted — though Arias is truly brilliant — it is the emotional gravitas Robinson brings to the lead role that sets this film apart.

When Joe is hurt, the audience knows it. His face and tone chance, dispensing with the character’s normal jovial demeanor. There are some very raw emotional conflicts involved with the character and Robinson handles them deftly, conveying a relatable teen confronting angst, pain, love, happiness, joy...growing up.

With a tried and true plot and a truly talented cast and crew, The Kings of Summer is an excellent way to escape the typical blockbusters and really jump into summer.

Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at wschutsky@moderntimesmagazine.com.
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