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.”


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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