Jordan Vogt-Rhodes' film The Kings of Summer was an audience favourite at Sundance this year, and following a brief cinema run it gets a DVD release where it might garner the more wide-ranging audience it deserves.
Utilising a script by Chris Galletta that is both funny and sentimental in equal doses, the film tells the story of three teenage boys in surburban Ohio, who upset by the actions of their parents and another boring summer decide to go live in the woods where they will build a house and live off the land for the summer.
We know that coming-of-age films from Stand By Me follow this thread of thought, whereas that stellar work was more a journey for the boys as they went to discover a body, those boys were always wanting to return home; here the boys are just rebelling as they are not happy with their current situation.
Joe (Nick Robinson) is dismissed at school and wants to be one of the boys, plus he and his Dad, Frank (Nick Offerman) are at continual loggerheads since the passing of Joe's mother. During a game of Monopoly, Frank swindles some property prompting Joe to phone the police reporting a theft. Patrick (Gabriel Basso) is the jock with an ankle injury meaning he has to wear a boot all summer; he is not happy at home as his parents drive him crazy, his mother is played by Megan Mullally of Will and Grace fame. They are joined by the eccentric Biaggio (Moises Arias) who provides the most laughs by way of his odd behaviour.
Galletta's script is quite funny in places and maintains that flow of laughs throughout the film, whereas some scripts can suffer from a willingness and need to get sentimental and dramatic in tone. The ending involving a scare with nature is played straight but the back and forth of Joe and Frank's dialogue helps the action bounce due to the already cantankerous nature of their relationship.
Special credit to the cinematographer, Ross Reige who shoots with a great eye and gets some great shots in the woods where the boys reside even providing a great crash zoom and focus during the blowout keg party at the start of the film.
Entertaining, well acted and a great addition to the pantheon of coming-of-age films.
The Kings of Summer is out now on DVD (£15.99RRP) from StudioCanal, my thanks to EM Foundation for the screening disc