The Kings of Summer is a good movie with one problem: Its R rating. I know younger teens who would love this movie, but who cannot legally see it.
And the R rating is totally unnecessary. Yes, some of Nick Offerman’s profane comments are hilarious. And, yes, unsupervised 15-year-old kids may be likely to drink beer. But The Kings of Summer, a light comedy, should’ve been tailored to be PG-13.
In TKOS, two 15-year-old buddies and their weird acquaintance run off into the woods and build a decent little shelter. They stay there for several weeks, enjoying their solitude but, particularly, the absence of their parents. Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Chesterfield’s own Gabriel Basso) and Biaggio (Moises Arias) have a good thing going—until they invite some of their friends over.
Every person, around age 14 or 15, begins to resent/shun/despise his or her parents. I did it. My brother did it. Each of my three kids did it. You probably did it, even if you can’t remember. In most cases, it’s not personal, it’s just part of growing up. In the cases of Joe and Patrick though, maybe it is personal.
Offerman (of TV’s Parks and Recreation) is Joe’s widowed dad, a sad and bitter man, with a disarming smugness about him. Patrick’s sincere, but overbearing, parents are played by Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson. Biaggio’s parents are not seen, although his dad is heard in a brief, but funny, sequence near the film’s end.
The three Kings are talented young actors who each have big futures ahead. Robinson and Basso are nice looking young men. Arias has an Eastern European ethnic look and great facial takes that could lead to successful broad comedy roles.
The Kings of Summer calls to mind several films about young people dealing with adolescence, including Moonrise Kingdom, Stand By Me and Breaking Away. All of us who grew up near the woods and fantasized about building a tree house or cabin getaway with dad’s tools and scrap lumber from nearby construction sites can appreciate what these three characters actually pull off here.
Too bad TKOS is rated R and most teens can’t see it without their own smug, doting parents in tow. Maybe they could sneak in from somewhere else in the Cineplex? Maybe!