‘The Kings of Summer’ Gather at Toy’s House (Movie Review)

Kings of SummerI remember it like it was only yesterday.  It was a cold, blistering day back in 2012 when my writing partner, girlfriend and I were sharing a conversation with producer Tyler Davidson (Compliance), an Ohio native, in a quaint Chagrin Falls, OH cafe.  We were talking about our feature film project and also discussing his next one.  The one on the tip of his tongue that day was a movie called Toy’s House, which ironically was filmed mostly in the Chagrin Falls area that previous summer.  Later on I came to find out that the film’s title had been changed to The Kings of Summer, but not before it made its debut under the Toy’s House moniker January 19th at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  I believe its first public showing under the new name was at the Cleveland International Film Festival on April 3rd last month.  Regardless of the name, congrats on all your success Tyler!  I loved Compliance a lot (it made my Top 10 of 2012 list here), so I was looking forward with curiosity as to what I would think of this one.

The film, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, stars Nick Robinson, Nick Offerman, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias.   I have heard it described as The Goonies meets Superbad, so maybe that gives you an idea of what to kind of expect with it.  Now I love both of those aforementioned films so if Kings of Summer turned out to be anything like either one of them, I knew I was going to love it.   But did it?   I’m glad you asked.   Come on!  Let’s have a talk about this.

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So I would say yeah, Kings of Summer actually hit it on the head and ended up being a little like Superbad meets Goonies, with a pinch of Stand By Me thrown in for good measure.  In my opinion, producer Tyler Davidson has struck gold again with this heartwarming coming of age story that’s revolves around the adolescent growing pains of 15-year-old Joe Toy (Robinson) and his experiences with his widowed father (Offerman).  Meanwhile, his best friend Patrick Keenan (Basso) also struggles at home with his own quirky set of parents, which I’m sorry, totally reminded me of mine…the mom (TV’s Megan Mullally) being the aggressor and the father (Marc Evan Jackson) being the complete opposite, playing the role of the quiet pacifist.  The nitpicking and the rude/crude, short temper of veteran sitcom star and the looks she made (if looks can kill) literally me in stitches more times than I care to admit.  I thought to myself, oh my God, this movie’s about my mother and I.  And oh yeah!  There’s also a love interest too…Miss Kelly (Erin Moriarity).

Now I have to admit, going into this film I originally thought to myself, what the hell are they going to do in the woods for the movie’s runtime of an hour and a half?  Well much to my surprise, quite a lot.  Chris Galletta’s tightly woven screenplay magically glistened like Twilight vampires, but in a very good way, as it brought together and touched upon all facets of the struggles our nation’s youth deal with such as broken homes, death, isolation, friendships, relationships, love interests and the most primal aspect of life…survival.  It’s through the friendship of Joe and Patrick, with the inclusion of one wacky sidekick, Biaggo (Arias)—love that kid, that we learn just how important the bonds of friendship and family really are and how fragile/delicate those lifelines can be, not that we didn’t already know that, right folks?  Although I’m 1,300 miles away from my family, I missed them even more after seeing this.  When we are young all we want to do is grow up and flee the coup as soon as possible.  And when we get older we realize just how good we had it and how hard our parents worked and tried to keep us as happy as possible.  In my opinion, The Kings of Summer drives that point home.  And it doesn’t hurt that this movie was pretty much filmed in my former backyard and playground in Cleveland, OH.  It’s always nice to see such familiar scenery no matter how bad I always wanted to escape from there.  Damn you Red Epic for capturing those frames so gorgeously.  I kept having to remind myself constantly last night that Ohio only looks this beautiful four to five months out of the year and that cars don’t rust in Texas.  Haha.

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Sure the movie’s R-rated vulgar and humorous undertone/language may be crude at times, but it makes no excuses for itself and unless you have a teenager that has never heard the F-word before (is there even one of those out there?), then I don’t believe parents have anything to worry about here.  There’s nothing here that your 15-year old hasn’t heard or seen before, save for the sick skinning of a rabbit, but I digress.  It was all done in the name of food and survival.  There’s no sex, nudity or drug use, just some cigar smoking and underage drinking, so like I said…ain’t nothing but a good time here.  But seriously…parents of the world, there’s nothing to be overly concerned about.  If nothing else, I think it will give adolescents a better appreciation and outlook on life at just how important family ultimately is and making amends with the ones who may feel too distant at times.  Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”  That message, although never blatantly blasted or clearly stated to insult you at all, prevails throughout this enjoyable tale of family, friendship and survival.

And best of all…hey 24 fans…Chloe’s in it!  That’s right…Miss Mary Lynn Rajskub!  So now I just gave you about a million and one reasons to go see this one, huh?  A further limited release of the  CBS film is scheduled for May 31, 2013.  Keep an eye out for it in a theater near you and enjoy it.

Kings of Summer Movie Poster


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