Kings of Summer

It’s so refreshing to see a movie without needing to wear 3D glasses.

Every year or so a nifty little coming-of-age movie comes along. Last year it was Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” This year, it’s “The Kings of Summer.”

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Premiering to rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Summer” tells the tale of three teenage friends – Joe (Nick Robinson – “Boardwalk Empire”), Patrick (Gabriel Basso – “The Big C”) and the delightfully bizarre, Biaggio (Moises Arias- “Despicable Me2”, “Ender’s Game”) – who, frustrated with their parents, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

Free from their parents’ rules, their idyllic summer becomes a test of friendship as each boy learns to appreciate the fact that family – whether it is the one you’re born into or the one you create – is something you can’t run away from.

There have been countless movies about teenagers with dialog that rings false, but screenwriter Chris Galletta strikes a tone that is so genuine, you absolutely believe every spoken word. 

The cast strikes all the right notes too; the grownups – the very funny Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”), Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24”). All honed their chops at Chicago’s 2nd City Improv Group – and it shows.

But, it is the kids that make “Summer” such a fine little film. Robinson delivers a powerful performance as Joe, a kid struggling to define himself as a son, as a friend, and to maybe even catch a glimpse of the man he will become. Gabriel Basso as Patrick, is spot on as the friend who doesn’t want to choose between his pal and a girl, played by the lovely Erin Moriarty. Moises Arias, as the odd little misfit, Biaggio is a revelation. I can’t wait to see what this kid does next.

“Kings of Summer” is a joy from beginning to end. Bring the kids, bring the grandkids, what the heck – bring the neighbors. Trust me, they’ll thank you.

The Bottom Line: Take a break from the noisy, summer action movies. “Kings of Summer” is a winner.

Rating: R  Runtime: 97 minutes

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