Film: The Kings Of Summer
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Nick Robinson, Nick Offerman
Stand By Me forever redefined coming-of-age filmmaking in 1986, and in 2013 The Kings Of Summer will do the same. Written by Chris Galetta and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, this Sundance favorite has everything you look for, but so rarely find in the world of Summer movies: A truly original story told in engrossing fashion without the use of CGI, 3D, Imax, or the backing of a major brand that will linger in the hearts and minds of moviegoers beyond the end of the calendar year.
Nick Robinson stars as Joe, a teenager living with his widowed father (Nick Offerman), who has hit a wall in life. Frustrated with the way things are at home and school, not to mention dealing with the unrequited love of a certain blonde (Erin Moriarty), he recruits two friends (Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias) for a Summer without rules. No parents, no laws, no school – just friends, nature, and the wild idea to build a house in the woods just outside town where they can live off the land, free of the restraints of the modern world. It’s as ambitious as teenage dreams can be, yet firmly within the grasps of reality, and the story of learning who you are and coming to terms with your lack of control in life that unfolds feels familiar while visually and emotionally striking you unlike anything in recent memory.
Capturing what the feeling of loss and shock is like when one realizes they’re growing up and everything is changing in ways they cannot stop on a level that connect with audiences of any walk of life is no easy task. A story needs to be told that feels true to the writer, but also hits home with people who may not relate in any way to the actions of the characters on screen. They need to see themselves as one of your leads, relate the people that character interacts with to people they themselves know, then sync with them early enough in the film to feel that they themselves have come to some new emotional understanding by the time the credits begin to roll. Whether you see yourself as one of the three friends that lead us on this journey, or if you are one of the parents who learn life lessons of their own, this film will hook you and it will do it within the first fifteen minutes. From there, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The Kings Of Summer is the best film of 2013 so far. Walking into this movie is the equivalent to treating yourself to ninety-three minutes of pure joy. This is the kind of escapism studios too often confuse with CGI-riddled explosion epics, and as you’re watching it that oh so rare feeling of timelessness begin to takeover. This isn’t a movie we’ll be talking about in six month, it’s a movie you will want to show your kids, or at least someone you love. It’s a story meant to be shared and enjoyed, and I urge you to do anything in your power to see it in theaters.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)