June 11, 2013

All Hail The Kings of Summer

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Those of you who have fancy internships will not be able to make me feel inferior this summer because I too have an impressive new entry on my resume: I have a job in the Hollywood movie business. And by that I mean I make minimum wage at a movie theater, located in Hollywood.

While cleaning up spilled Milk Duds and getting butter burns up and down my forearms might not be the most glamorous summer gig there is, it does come with some perks such as a lot of free movies (I also get half-off concessions.) So I’ve seen literally everything that’s out right now (and eaten a lot of Junior Mints.) But by far my favorite movie of the summer, and I know it’s only June but it’s pretty great so it’s going to take a lot to knock it from first place, is The Kings of Summer.

The Kings of Summer stars Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias, who each play 15-year-olds fed up with their parents who decide to run away and live in the woods. Joe (Robinson) is the one who comes up with the plan, because of his strained relationship with his father, played by the hilarious and wonderfully bearded Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), and convinces the others to join him. His sister (Alison Brie) tries to offer Joe some comfort, but the best she can do is, “In two years, he’ll be paying you to leave.”

Joe’s best friend Patrick (Basso) too finds it impossible to be around his mother (Megan Mullally) and father (Marc Evan Jackson) without copious amounts of eye-rolling and groaning. Arias plays Biaggio — the weird kid who just kind of followed the best friends into the adventure, and who Joe and Patrick don’t quite know how to get rid of or deal with.

Joe, upon discovering an almost mystical clearing in the woods, makes the decision to move there. He and the others steal construction supplies, a slide from a playground, furniture and anything else they can use to build their house. They gather berries and hunt, until they discover a Boston Market that’s right off the highway, that is, and “live like men.”

In addition to Offerman, Brie and Mullally, The Kings of Summer features a number of other familiar comedic faces such as Mary Lynn Rajskub, Tony Hale and Kumail Nanjiani. In fact, as much as I love all of these actors, I wouldn’t recommend the movie on the basis of any of their performances. The majority of the film focuses on the three main characters and their friendship. Of course, after some time embracing his masculinity, Joe decides they need a woman’s touch. He invites his friend and crush over to dinner: one of their classmates, Kelly. Most of Kelly’s presence in the film consists of Joe’s fantasies, but her actual presence of course causes drama (and a lot of comedy) between the friends.

The Kings of Summer is similar to the movie which defined the summer of 2012, Moonrise Kingdom, in its plot set-up and almost dream-like quality — the scenes feel as if they are memories. But this film is grittier than Moonrise Kingdom. It’s less composed than Wes Anderson’s movie about runaway kids, and it feels sort of scattered. However, this serves the feeling that the film is a memory or a fantasy, rather than being a failing on the director’s or editor’s part.

The film is also different from Moonrise Kingdom in that it’s definitely a comedy. Yes it’s sweet, but there are many more lines that cause raucous laughter than an adoring smile. There are lines and scenarios, many of which arise from Nick Offerman’s dry sarcasm, that are just hysterical. Robinson, Basso and Arias too have wonderful chemistry, and there are many humorous aspects of The Kings of Summer that result from their dynamic.

The Kings of Summer isn’t a life-changing film, but it is a wonderfully crafted and charming story. It is currently playing in Los Angeles and New York, but will open in more cities this Friday and even more on June 14th  and 21st. I highly recommend it. You will laugh. You will cry (mostly from laughing, but there are some heartfelt moments.)

And, if you’re in the LA area and want to see a movie this summer hit me up, because, again, I get a lot of free movies. But only on weekdays.

Original Author: Julia Moser