The Kings of Summer suffers from the over-hype generated by the Sundance Film Festival crowd. The cast is charming, but the story isn’t as magical or original as one might think. It still manages to win you over but not with anything you haven’t seen before.

The Players:

  • Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
  • Writer: Chris Galletta
  • Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie
  • Cinematography: Ross Riege
  • Original Music By: Ryan Miller

Plot Synopsis:

Joe (Robinson) is facing the brunt of his teenage years and is struggling to get along with his stubborn father (Offerman). As the summer begins, Joe and his friends (Basso and Arias) build a secret house in the forest to run away from their troubles. From there, they embark on a adventure that they nor their families will ever forget.

The Good:

  • Energetic: That’s the first word that comes mind when talking about The Kings of Summer. Everything about this movie is beaming with energy. From the cast, the director’s style, to the quick cuts of the boys storming through the forest. The movie holds the same kind of fire that resides within the teenagers and it’s addictive.
  • Our Cast: This film wouldn’t be nearly as good if it weren’t for its vibrant cast. We get wonderful performances from Nick Offerman and Alison Brie, but it’s the three young men who are the stars. Their performances don’t come off as stiff or rehearsed at all. It’s great to see talented young actors onscreen, in a way, just be themselves. It’s one of the things that makes the movie really work. You believe that yes, these boys would exist in the real world and this is exactly what they’d do. It’s bad to run away from home but the overall experience they have is intoxicating. We’d also like to point out that Moises Arias steals the show as the odd but loyal friend Biaggio.
  • Soft But Effective Story: The film deals with a couple of topics that you’d normally see in an independent production. It centers on the subject of growing up and strengthening a father-son relationship. It touches upon its key points in an obvious manner but not through unnecessary dialogue towards the audience. They know we’re picking it up and don’t cater to us in that regard. They display the hardships that the character’s going through with just some key situations. The Kings of Summer gets its message across and does it in a fine way.

The Decent:

  • Drag: The Kings of Summer suffers from a small but noticeable drag in the middle. We start on our feet, running with our main characters as we’re plunged into a teenage boy’s fantasy of a cool summer in the forest. Then there’s a point where the movie hits a wall. It loses the magic that it held in the first half. It takes a while for it to recuperate but when it does you’re back on board.

The Bad:

  • The Editing: Somebody had a little too much freedom cutting this movie together. After a certain point, it becomes over-saturated with lingering, unnecessary cuts to a character (or three) in the forest doing something random. It may not fit, but they keep it in there anyway. At times, the film feels like it’s on the verge of turning into a strange music video. The editing is distracting and almost completely throws you out of the story.


If there’s one thing The Kings of Summer succeeds in, it’s showing off its great cast whom we’ll see in more movies to come.

Rating: 6.5/10

The Kings of Summer is out in limited theaters now.

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