*Originally written in 2013 based on a free copy provided by Amazon
Us blokes of a certain age grew up with films of a certain quality, films which mirrored our own childhoods or which we wished we were real: The Goonies, Stand By Me, Eerie Indiana TV show, Back To The Future, and a host of other 80s classics. The coming of age movie has largely faded away for the new generations with barely any films of note in recent years. Super 8 was a fine attempt at recapturing the old glory, Son Of Rambow, was good, but the best ‘recent’ one I can think of is Now And Then, an underrated movie from the perspective of women and girls -from the mid nineties. I had heard a lot of positive feedback about The Kings Of Summer, but I made sure that I didn’t read too much about the plot – All I really knew about it before watching was that it was being compared favourably to Stand By Me. The comparisons are fair – quality wise at least, but they are two very different films.
The Kings Of Summer is the film debut of Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and focuses on a group of friends who each, for various reasons, are sick of their home lives, and decide to run away from home to create their own paradise. The majority of the film follows the kids, just shy of adulthood, but the story doesn’t shy away from showing the reactions of the respective families. I wouldn’t want to give away any more of the story that that – not that there are any surprises or twists, but it is better to come to this without knowing too much.
The script is hilarious throughout, with all sorts of instantly classic one-liners, it doesn’t get bogged down by any sentimentality at any point, and only at one point does it give way to what I would say was a cheap soap-like turn of events to propel the plot to its conclusion. This moment which causes friction between the two main characters was easy to see from a mile away, but I was hoping that the movie wouldn’t go down that route given how refreshing the rest of the film is. That was the only disappointing moment, although I admit that is purely down to my own feelings and others will likely not be annoyed in any way. It is almost a perfect script for this type of film, finding the perfect balance between the kids and the older folks – both are shown to have their qualities and flaws, and both the love between both groups as well as the sheer generational misunderstanding. Parents of teens will enjoy this just as much as any teens. Not that I mean this is a movie for teens – I have no idea who the target audience, if any, would be – it’s simply a brilliant, very funny film. I also apprecitate how even the smallest character are both played wonderfully, but are not thrown in for sake of the plot – instead they appear as real people with their own quirks – truly it puts most other films to shame with regards to characterisation.
Special mention must go to the actors – each play their part well – some of them were familiar to me but I couldn’t put my finger on where I knew them from (the temptation would be to say from my own childhood). The main roles of Joe, Patrick, Joe’s dad are all perfect, as well as the aforementioned smaller roles, but the star of the show as this inevitably becomes a new cult favourite, will probably be Moises Arias’ Biaggio. Every line he gets is gold, and he plays the role with the perfect balance of alien and reality – again seeming like a real person rather than the typical ‘quirky type’ of person which Hollywood seems obsessed with recently, and gets completely wrong every time (and acting as a fine mockery to all those people out there who would call themselves quirky because the wear a T-shirt with GEEK written across it…).
I could drone on more about the flair, the cinematography, the soundtrack, favourite scenes etc, but there is no need – just go watch it for yourself. The making of documentary is also pretty funny, and presents what appears to be a group of friends having a great time making what they hope to be a brilliant film.