With the promise of sunshiny days on the horizon, I was reminded of one of my favourite under-rated summer films – The Kings of Summer. This coming-of-age comedy captures the angsty teenage years perfectly, while also exploring themes of toxic masculinity and parental independence. The Kings of Summer follows a trio of teenage best friends trying to resist parental over-reach to claim their burgeoning adulthood, while squirrelled away in a haphazardly-built house in the woods. Don’t let the description fool you though; full of hilarious one-liners and a talented cast, this film is great for a laugh.
The film follows Joe Toy, a high school-aged teen frustrated with his overly stern, dysfunctional father (Nick Offerman). Joe and his friends Patrick and Biaggio (my favourite character) carry out a plan to run away from their families to build a house in the forest and live off the land, free from responsibility and societal norms. After scavenging construction sites and the forest for supplies, they construct a makeshift abode and find themselves alone in the woods, masters of their own destiny. Meanwhile, their parents and the local cops search for the trio, uncertain if they’ve been kidnapped or run away.
Chock full of beautiful imagery paired with a complementary soundtrack, this comedy is a charming mash-up of Stand by Me and Into The Wild. The young cast play their roles perfectly while portraying the rollercoaster of teenage emotions, encapsulating the utter unfairness of being dependent on their parents while yearning for a life of their own. We’ve all felt that conflict within ourselves of intellectual ability without intellectual experience. The desire to eschew the comforts, conflicts, and frustrations of a contemporary world and go off the grid is a universal sentiment not solely the property of adolescence, which is why The Kings of Summer is so hilariously relatable.
The film employs a robust cast of recognizable talent, and though I’m unsure if this was intentional, or simply a testament to the casting decisions from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the majority of the supporting cast has gone on to star in other major productions (Alison Brie – GLOW, Erin Moriarty – The Boys). You will most likely spend a portion of the film wracking your brain as to where you recognize the talent from.
Surprisingly funny in its delivery, The Kings of Summer is the perfect way to kick off lighthearted summer viewing. It is available through various streaming networks online.
Check out my list of other coming-of-age comedy films below.
2. Lady Bird
4. Moonrise Kingdom