Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Kings of Summer

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some teen drinking
Profanity:Very strong language used by teenagers and adults, sexual references
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references, some crude, kiss
Alcohol/Drugs:Teen and adult drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Peril, snake
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:Jun3 7, 2013
DVD Release Date:September 24, 2013

kings_of_summer_posterWhen Mark Twain had Huck Finn leave the kind-hearted widow who hoped to “civilize” him to “light out for the territories,” he tapped into the dream of all teenagers and the teenagers inside all of us to escape from all rules and restrictions and create our lives from scratch.  Peter Pan and the Lost Boys had Neverland.  Baby boomers sang along with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young about “trying to get ourselves back to the garden.”  Every generation wishes for the simplicity and purity of the natural world.  In the wise, touching, and often wildly funny “The Kings of Summer,” three 15-year-olds follow their own call of the wild to run away from home and build a house in the woods. Their parents may see them as boys, but they want a place where they can define what it means to be men.

Nick Robinson, who perfected a look of exquisite pain at the humiliating behavior of his father in a brilliant series of Cox cable commercials, plays Joe Toy.  He lives with his widowed father, Frank (“Parks and Recreation’s” Nick Offerman in a witty and heartfelt performance).  Of course at that age, a parent does not have to do anything to be excruciatingly embarrassing.  It is bad enough that Frank actually exists, but he also has the nerve to tell Joe what to do.  Worse, he is dating someone, and worst of all he expects Joe to play a board game with her.  The horror!

Joe’s best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso), is smoldering with his own adolescent fury.  His parents say things like, “Rope in the attitude, mister” and just because his ankle is in a cast, they want him to be careful. How dare they!  “I’m happy to be where my parents are not,” he says.

Another kid named simply  Biaggio (the wonderfully oddball Moises Arias) wants to join them.  He does not have any special problem with his family.  He just “didn’t want to do nothing.”

Joe, Patrick, and Biaggio build their house in the woods.  They breathe the air of free men and rejoice in their liberation from all rules and conventions.  They vow “to boil our own water, kill our  own food, build our own shelter, be our own men.”  If foraging for food in the woods means a stop by the Boston Market across the highway from the forest, well, no one can argue with how good it tastes.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts  and writer Chris Galletta bring a fresh and sympathetic eye to the story, evoking the pleasure of what feel — for a little while — like endless possibilities.   The film perfectly captures that liminal moment when teenagers live in the space between childhood and becoming an adult.  And they’re old enough to carry it off, at first.  They are young enough to be certain their parents are wrong about pretty much everything — and to be confident that they can do everything better.   The house is like something the Lost Boys might build for Peter Pan, with a stolen door from a port-a-potty for the entrance and essentials like a mailbox, a slide, a basketball hoop, and an air hockey table.As is often the case with boys of 15, they look like they are from three different planets.   Patrick is muscular and physically much more mature than the others and Biaggio could be 12.  Joe is somewhere in the middle.  Biaggio’s random and inscrutable pronouncements are amusingly accepted by the other two as if they made as much sense as anything else, or as if making sense did not matter.  And of course the most unexpected complication is when a girl comes through the port-a-potty door.

Like that other icon of the dream of escaping the oppression of civilization, Henry David Thoreau, the boys learn that there is a time to go to the woods, and a time to come home.

Parents should know that this movie has very strong and crude language and teen drinking and smoking.

Family discussion:  What was the most important thing Joe learned?  What about Frank?  What would you bring to a house in the woods?

If you like this, try:  “Stand By Me”

 



Previous Posts

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Actors Of Color Discuss Racial Stereotypes In Hollywood
Film Courage produced this excellent and very compelling film with actors of color talking about the challenges they face in Hollywood. If we did a better job of representing diversity in film, we would not just tell better stories and tell stories better, we would make better progress toward under

posted 8:00:49am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Annie
The story of the plucky little Depression-era orphan with the curly red hair has been not just re-booted but re-imagined into the world of rent-a-bikes, viral videos, DNA tests, YOLO, corpora

posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Listen to People's Lives: David Plotz's Working Podcast
Former Slate editor David Plotz, now at Atlas Obscura, says that he is a big fan of Studs Terkel's classic book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He has paid tribute to that great work in the best possible way, by updating it with his podcast seri

posted 3:59:23pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.