Going to the Movies – “The Kings of Summer”

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

Ever since the creation of Instagram, when I watch an indie movie I’m often reminded of a #nofilter picture. There tends to be a lot of nature – trees, fields, and water – all with the sun artfully peering through and reflecting off of various objects. There also tends to be young love and friendships explained through those classic close ups that create tension.

There’s a reason Instagram was bought for $1 billion by Facebook and why the independent movies who can do it right immediately become a beautiful picture you can’t, and don’t want to, stop watching. Set and filmed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, “The Kings of Summer” manages to hit all the right notes. It’s a beautiful cinematic experience that manages to stay relatable by never taking itself too seriously.

The film is a broad cast of characters that effortlessly revolves around Joe Toy (Nick Robinson), a sixteen-year-old boy whose home life is less than ideal. His family is clearly still grieving from the loss of Joe’s mother and with his sister living away from home, he’s left with just his dad (Nick Offerman) whose general demeanor is cloudy on a good day. He constantly pushes the boundaries, desperate for independence and to be seen as a man.

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His best friend, Patrick, has issues of his own. Patrick’s overbearing parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) are causing him to break out in a rash all over his body. When Joe proposes building a house deep in the woods and running away Patrick initially resists but inevitably agrees. Joined by Biaggio, an oddball loner, they begin their summer adventure by thieving and scheming. While deep in the woods, their friendships are inevitably tested by girls, nature, and that youthful longing of being able to make it on your own.

The movie is a journey of self-discovery, not just for the teenage boys at the center but for the broad cast of characters who come to terms with their own flaws. Robinson plays Joe perfectly – confident, insecure and incredibly charismatic. He hit sixteen-years-old on the head and his ability to lead without being overbearing allowed the other characters in the movie to also have their moments. In particular, Offerman’s performance nearly stole the movie. You can see the “Parks and Recreation” star invoking Ron Swanson with his dry, sarcastic nature and it works.

Purposefully or not, I was immediately reminded of Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”, but “The Kings of Summer” held its ground. While I loved Moonrise Kingdom, each scene was planned to an artistic tee. It was brilliant and sweet but it was so perfectly pieced together. The greatness of “The Kings of Summer” is that it doesn’t try to be a perfect indie movie but just a good story that is held up by great actors. A 2013 Sundance nominee, “The Kings of Summer” makes you feel good and movies like that are worth going to see.

“The Kings of Summer” can be seen in limited release starting May 31, 2013.

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