Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Kings Of Summer (2013, Jordon Vogt-Roberts)

It's easy to forget how hard it is being a teenager. We ourselves tend to arrive at an age where we repress the hardships and psychological strain we used to face, looking down from adulthood mockingly at teenage problems as if they're insignificant details blown out of proportion. Perhaps from the outside these do look minuscule but we've all faced them, and when at that delicate age on the verge of adulthood these problems engulf us and are often the making or breaking of us, with the results carrying into our adult lives. It's a commonality to romanticise the past, most often our teenage years, but this comes from denying how cruel the world treats you at that age. In hindsight it may have felt like you had the world in your palm and were free to conduct yourself as you pleased, but this is rarely the case.

The Kings Of Summer takes a touching look at teenage angst, friendships, and that desperate need to escape a life that you not yet understand and likewise doesn't understand you, yet. With some striking use of visuals and a mostly successful balance of comedy, here is a memorable film that stands shoulders above the easily hackneyed 'coming-of-age' tales we're so often littered with.

We've all wanted to run away from problems at some point in our lives, this mostly stems from alienation and happens at tender ages. That's exactly what the determined Joe, the doubtful Patrick, and the perplexing Biaggio do as they build a fortress in a relatively untravelled section of a forrest and leave their family lives to begin afresh, free of adult intervention. It's a story we've all seen or heard before but what hits through is the tenderness of Chris Galletta's script that while sacrificing dramatic turns at times with an overbalance of comedy it remains sincere and is forgiven for actually being funny.

And it is, even through using a dynamic trio similar of the recent Hangover series there isn't a shed of cynicism here. Biaggio (Moises Arias) is the main comedic draw along with Joe's father played by Nick Offerman. Biaggio is an otherworldly young man, just on the right side of crazy with a persona not too dissimilar from Zach Galifianakis' turn in the Hangover. This isn't a case of copy and repeat, however, with Biaggio's off-centre magic working wonders with an array of entertaining one-liners. 

Standard tropes of teen angst are explores rather well; Joe's unrequited attraction to a girl who eventually comes to live in their haven, Patrick's genuine allergic reaction to his parents, and the difficulty in accepting a step-parent. These explorations work due to the film's unforced knack of embedding in the mind due to a wonderfully chosen soundtrack, the magic of Ryan Miller's original score, and Ross Reige's often hypnotic images that evoke a times, place, feeling. There's an enchanting scene where the boys team together to tribal drum and dance on a large drain pipe; it's an impressive moment, one that feels genuine and captures within it more than just humour but the essence of the film itself. It's moments such as these that makes The Kings Of Summer not just an entertaining film about youth, but a film that can be deeply felt.

No film lasts forever, and in this case the boy's wooded nirvana naturally takes a down turn as jealously and the strain of survival takes its toll. But just as the boys will mourn for these good days and look back at them fondly, desperate at time to revisit them, The Kings Of Summer will summon a similar response from its audience as it will surely prove to be endlessly revisited.

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