Indie & Foreign
The Kings of Summer (2013)

Earlier this year, Mud took a similar premise but gave us an original quest. Last year, Perks of Being a Wallflower aimed for the same feel but featured a more daring twist. I'd recommend watch both movies before The Kings of Summer, and if you're still hungry for teenage nostalgia, go ahead and re-watch Stand By Me. It's not that the movie is bad, it's just that you won't remember it in a week.


There’s nothing wrong with unpretentious coming-of-age stories.

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[do action=”moment” emo=”LookingGood” title=”Establishing the rhythm”/]

We all knew from the tagline and poster that this was going to be a quirky movie. It finds its footing in nostalgia, which is always a risky move because substance could take a hit. So far so good, though. The first shot of the kids banging on a tunnel to a dorky dance makes me want to go in the woods straight away.

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After a quick detour for the classic school bullying scene, we get a few more of those standard coming-of-age moments: the main kid lost his mother, is in love with a pixie girl (biggest personality trait: blonde hair) and has a conflicted relationship with his dad. At least, the dad part is played perfectly by Nick Offerman, who seems to improvise most of his lines.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Awkward” title=”You know, THAT dad”/]

I often feel that you can judge a nostalgic drama by compiling the moments you can relate to. The movie definitely delivers on that front. As Joe and Patrick chill out in the basement, Patrick’s dad blunders his way out of an uncomfortable situation. Both of his parents are the kind of clumsily inept parents that you wish you could hide throughout your teenage years. That is to say, they’re great.

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Total confusion here. What year is this movie set in? A few minutes ago, the main characters were playing Super Nintendo in a 1990’s inspired basement and, now, the pixie girl is holding an iPhone. It’s either a poor attention to detail or a shameful attempt at dragging the audience in a nostalgic vibe with every trick in the book.

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Parents always seem to think that board games are a good ice breaker. Big mistake here. It’s the best way to cause a series of weird moments as displayed here. The Monopoly game goes south as soon as suspicious estate deals are made between Joe’s dad and his new lover. This whole scene was by far my favorite, as Offerman’s wit drives the action forward.

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Joe and Patrick join forces with a weird little creature called Biaggio to build a playhouse in the woods. The movie quickly becomes a safe version of “Into The Wild,” as the teenagers give up on society with $240 for groceries.

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This is strange. As soon as the movie picks up the pace with the cabin in the woods storyline, it starts to drag and lose itself in an overabundance of themes. With Offerman gone, there’s nothing left to anchor the movie. Just a few teenagers wandering around with soft beards, arguing about a guy without personality. At least, Biaggio delivers on the weirdness to keep us from turning off the movie altogether.

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A few hints were dropped that a snake baddie would be introduced to give the movie some kind of an ending. Here it comes. Joe is alone in despair up until his father comes to save him from a snake attack. Biaggio comes along, too, and he gets bit. This movie is spiraling out of control.

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Ok. Here’s where they wanted to get to: friendship above all. I’m sorry, they haven’t earned it.

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