Film Review : The Kings of Summer (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 76%

Directed By – Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring – Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, and Erin Moriarty

Three teenage friends, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

It seems like the “coming of age” story is getting a bit played out. I wanted to see this mostly because of the players involved and the fact that the trailer makes it look like a modern day “Stand By Me” but I couldn’t help being a bit bored with the whole kids learning how to be mature adults thing. “The Spectacular Now” and “The Way Way Back” complete the trio with this film to give this summer the summer of teenage angst and rebellion.

I actually ended up really loving the first half of this film. The film follows Joe, played by Robinson, and Patrick, played by Basso, as they go trough their strange home lives in search of a way out. A party that gets busted up leads them to a spot far out in the woods where they decide to escape too and build a house. Biaggio, played hilariously by Arias, tags along and the three set out to get supplies for their summer.

A lot of people are bashing this film for being a bit pretentious but I honestly didn’t see it. I didn’t take the moral lessons that the film was throwing out by the end of the film so it really didn’t matter much to me that it came off a bit derivative and contrived. It was a just a funny film about kids experiencing their own summer. Moises Arias honestly should be in more things. He was easily the best thing about this film and stole every single scene. He might be the funniest person I’ve seen in a film all year. The rest of the cast did a great job and you just can’t go wrong with Nick Offerman. The second half of the film just couldn’t keep up with the humor and charm of the first half as the drama of the situation became just too much for me. I wouldn’t say it ruined the film for me but it certainly took points away.

I can’t blame the film though. I have horrible problems ending things.


Film Review : The Way Way Back (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%

Directed By – Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Starring – Liam James, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, and Maya Rudolph

Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Oh man did the tagline nail this movie. I think most of us have been in the situation that Liam James’s character Duncan has been in. He’s 14, shy, doesn’t really know how he fits into the world and is looking for some kind of connection with anything. I know I have. I remember a vacation to Orlando, Florida when I was 14. We stayed at Universal and while my parents tried everything they could to cheer me up and get me to have fun, I was mostly running off by myself and getting lost in the park. In the film, Duncan retreats to a waterpark and tries to find his connections. My situation was a little different of course. I’m not an only child. My parents aren’t divorced. My Mom’s boyfriend isn’t a dick, but I felt that isolation that he felt in the film. It’s ultimately what made me enjoy the film. That, and the cast.

I think this is the most Sam Rockwell-ish that Sam Rockwell has ever been asked to become in a film. He is the epitome of charm and wit. It was almost to the point where his character became unreal because of how much charisma oozed out of him. He was hilarious to watch and as always, knew when to hit the emotions in just the right fashion. Steve Carell plays a different role in which he is like how I said above, just a dick. Comic relief in the form of the films writers and directors, Faxon and Rash, was also an enjoyable touch but they didn’t receive enough screen time to be honest. In fact, I would have wished for a longer film just so I could absorb all the great talent in this film.

It’s a fun movie. It’s not a game changer. I don’t know how films in the 80s or 90s that dealt with similar themes got to their cult status but I can see this being a great summer film in the upcoming years. It’s the dead of winter, snow on the ground, and all I want to do is go up to Martha’s Vineyard and have a summer. I think that feeling trumps over the large amount of sentimentality that occurred during the last ten minutes or the fact that this is basically a run of the mill coming of age story that we’ve seen a million times. The general entertainment from the cast and the overall vibe of the film are what I enjoyed most. Great summer film. Great film for teenagers. Rash and Faxon aren’t going to be winning another Oscar for this (The Descendants) but it’s a great debut for the first time directors/original screenwriters.