Two teenage best friends, Joe and Patrick, share the same level of disdain for living under their parent's rules. In the ultimate act of independence, the two best friends decide to runaway, spending their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Being only two people, Joe and Patrick also bring in the help of Biaggio, an eccentric and unpredictable oddball, to complete their house in the woods. Free from their parent's rules, the boys summer quickly becomes a test of friendship and family as they struggle to find themselves. Jordan Vogt-Roberts' The Kings of Summer is a coming of age story thats greatest strength lies in its ability to capture the teenage angst associated with independence. Joe is the main protagonist of the story - a boy whose grown distant from his father since his mother died. This is the meat of the dramatic storyline but unfortunately the Kings of Summer never does enough to really capture how much Joe has been affected by the loss of his mother. The audience is repeatedly reminded of it sure, but I never felt that I was shown this through the character's point of view. I believe this is also the main reason why I never felt particularly sympathetic towards Joe as a character, as he came off more like a brat than a kid who is emotionally damaged. A lot of the characters of The Kings of Summer are larger than life, from Biaggio's extremely strang character to the the exaggerated motif of Patrick's controlling parents. This larger than life persona the film carries makes it a very fun comedy but I believe it also ends up hurting the emotional impact of the drama. I'm not denying how well the film captures youthful exuberance but the actual coming of age dramatic storyline centered around Joe and his father just doesn't resonate as well as it should have. The Kings of Summer succeeds much more than not because of its ability to transport the viewer back to adolescence, creating a comical and nostalgia filled journey.
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