The Kings of Summer (2013)


It’s the dream every kid before the year 2000 had. Now, they just want to play COD.

Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias star as three teenage friends who, tired of living with their constantly-nagging parents, decide to build a house in the middle of the woods during one summer. As the boys soon find out, it’s harder to be on your own, whereas the parents find out: they are just as crazy as they thought they were. Yeah, can’t find anything deeper than that. Sorry.

Most movies about kids usually show one thing and that’s how they all want to be their own type of grown-ups. It never works, but it always amuses us on-lookers due to the fact that we know that half of the crap we have in our lives and are able to do, wouldn’t be possible without our parents/family. However, you can’t tell that to the rebellious teen who’s expecting summer to be the time for him/her to shine and come into their own. I was one of them, and I soon learned: jeez, I love my mommy and daddy. As much as they drive me crazy, I know that I would be nothing without their help and support, so why the hell do these kids think that they can get past that long-lasting virtue!?!?? Those spoiled brats!

Whenever I see a movie like this that concerns young teenagers, being exactly that, I can usually connect considering I was one not too long ago. However, these kids I couldn’t really connect with all that much. It wasn’t because they were the nerds in school that spent more times stuffed in their lockers than in actual class, but I think it’s because the movie didn’t really give them any type of personalities that were more than just your typical, cliché. There’s one guy who’s just the standard kid, who’s chasing after this chick who’s stuck with the older, d-bag that’s holding her down; another kid that has parents that drive him ridiculously-insane; and lastly, there’s the weird kid that says nutty things, does nutty things, and has an even nuttier-reason for doing the things that he does (just to let you know, the reason is there is no reason: he just does it). It doesn’t really go any deeper than that with any of these kids and even though they seem like the type of kids I could meet in school, say “hi” to, and forget that they were even involved with my day, it still doesn’t make them the types of kids that I want to watch in a movie, let alone one about how they break out of their shells and get wild in the forest.

In a world where hipsters have finally taken over; then, and only then, I could believe these three being friends.
In a world where hipsters have finally taken over; then, and only then, I could believe these three being friends.

For me, that was the biggest problem for me with this movie. I don’t know if it’s a point of character or what it is with me, but these kids didn’t strike me as ones that interested me, had me feeling for them when they were being annoyed by their parents, and they sure as hell didn’t do much for me in believing that they could stay out of the world of technology, where Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reigns supreme. Seriously, if you took three types of kids out their element, placed them in the middle of the woods, gave them a house with little to no electricity to support their asses; they would go completely insane. That’s rarely touched on here, and it seemed strange, especially when the movie seems as self-knowing about it’s premise and characters as it does.

That’s not to say I didn’t hate the movie, it just disappointed me in a way. I expected this to be that one “smart” movie about kids being themselves, and letting loose of all insecurities, but it wasn’t. Instead, I just got a movie that seemed more concerned with straining itself to be funny, show that nature is awesome, and also, be able to show that you should always stay with your mommy and daddy, no matter how much they may tick you off with their constant love and smothering. Well, because you know: having parents that love, care, and support your ass throughout every stage of your life blows, doesn’t it? Give me a break!

However, it’s not as bad as I may make it sound. In fact, I’d say that the movie still allowed me to have a good time, despite it not really delivering on many of the marks that usually make a movie like this, work for me. The characters don’t feel like memorable, but it’s the energy of summer that does. That feeling you get in your body when you know that just about everything and anything is possible, you can pull off any types of havoc or debauchery and be fine at the end of the day, is exactly what summer is all about and was practically made for, which is what type of presence this movies gives off. It reminded me of why I love summer so much (seriously though, which kid doesn’t?!?!?), and since it’s here; it makes me jitter-bug even more, as I type each and every word out.

Well, that and the fact that I’m still recovering last night. Holy shit.

So, basically: if you want a movie that you want to remind what it’s like to live in the feel of summer, and be young and wild again; then this is the film for you. That may be all that it’s worth remembering for, but at least that’s better than nothing. Can’t say I hated the film for that and it took me away from liking it more, but it definitely didn’t win much points for me either. It was just there, on the screen, having fun with itself, while I sort of sat there and wish I was having as much fun as these kids. God, what it would pay to be young again. And fun, too. I miss those days. Wah.

Next best thing to Rock Band.
The homeless person’s version of Rock Band.

Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias seem like they have much promise when it comes to their future film roles, however, they didn’t get much of a good start here. It’s nothing against them as actors, because they all do fine, it’s just that their character don’t seem to be as fully fleshed out as the film may have it seem like. Robinson is a bit dull as the type of kid that just goes about his day, gets slightly-picked on, and never sticks up for himself; Basso is fine as the one kid who just does his thing, doesn’t get in anybody’s way, but is extremely cool with his out-look on life, even if it is a bit ordinary; and Arias is the weirdo of the group, Biaggio, who’s fun to be around because of the manic energy he brings to the table. They all have good rapport together and seem like the type of kids that would be friends and do something like build a house out in the middle of the forest, but only one stood-out for me (Biaggio), and even he seemed like a one-trick pony that the movie, as well as the characters, loved to point at every so often and show us what a cook-ball he truly is. Funny for about 2 scenes, but gets old, REAL QUICK.

The adults probably fare better in this situation, and even they feel like they can get the shorter-end of the stick at times. At times. Nick Offerman is the best out of the whole cast for the sole fact that he was able to make me forget that he was playing a character, that reminded me exactly of Ron Swanson. Offerman is good as the father of the main kid who starts this whole plan and idea, because he’s able to have us gain sympathy for this lonely, depressed dude that seems to have lost it all in his life, but doesn’t want to lose his son. So, therefore, he tries his hardest to keep control of him, anyway he can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What matters though is that he cares and loves his son, which is why he stole the movie for me. His real-life wife, Megan Mullally, is here as a mother of another one of the kids and is fine being goofy, but I think enough is enough with these two love-birds showing up in the same movies. I get it! They are married, love each other to death, and support one another on every decision (aka, movie) the other one takes, but separate yourselves for a bit, for godsakes!

Consensus: The Kings of Summer will make most people feel happy, young, and fun inside, but that’s not because the characters are three-dimensional or the plot-scenario is memorable in the least bit, it’s just because the movie is about summer, that also happens to feature kids living out on their own, but also not forgetting to learn some real important life-lessons along the way. Just go home, hug your mommy, or your daddy, or whoever the hell is closest to you and be happy.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Hey, you may not be able to live there anymore, but it sure as hell makes a great place to take the girlfriend back to when the rents are home. Am I right, hormone-fueled, teenage male?
Look at the bright side, you may not be able to live there anymore, but it sure as hell makes a great place to take the girlfriend back to when “the ‘rents” are home. Am I right, hormone-fueled, teenage male?
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14 comments

    • I ‘ve completely given up on anything replicating Stand By Me. That one’s a classic. This one sounds like it could be interesting but I’m in no rush to see it.

    • Every movie that’s about teenagers adventuring and being on their own seems to be compared to Stand By Me, no matter how many differences there truly are. It’s almost inescapable.

  1. Good review man. As far as films that are care-free, summer-fling type of mood and pitting parents against their own children, I don’t think anyone’s going to do it better than Wes Anderson. His Moonrise Kingdom seems very similar to this, only in Kings of Summer the kids are a little more grown up and seem like they aren’t quite as committed (or prepared) to abandon their family for the sake of a new experience. I still will check this out, but too bad it wasn’t as good as it at first looked.

  2. This is one of those films where I have seen the preview so many times that I just cannot bring myself to see it in the theater … Thanks for confirming “rental” status!

  3. Still think Stand By Me is the best “remember your youth” film ever made. I’ll check this out on DVD at some stage though – looks interesting.

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