Film Pulse Score

Release Date: May 31, 2013 (Limited)
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
MPAA Rating: R

It’s no secret to our readers that Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me is one of my all time favorite films.  It’s a simple story about a group of friends hunting for a dead body, but it’s in these friends that true meaning of the film takes shape and is realized.  It’s a story about growing up and friendship and cherishing the small, fleeting moments, in life. That said, when I read that Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kings of Summer was being compared to Stand By Me I was skeptical but curious. After seeing it, I can now understand the comparison, and the end result is a nearly perfect film that excels on every level.

The story revolves around three friends that decide to run away from home due to problems with their parents.  Joe Toy, played by Nick Robinson, is tired of his overbearing father (Nick Offerman) and hatches a plan to build a house in the forest.  He employs the help of his best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) who is tired of his parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) smothering him every moment of the day.  Accompanying the two is Biaggio (Moises Arias), who can only be described as odd.

The biggest difference between this film and Stand By Me is the overall tone.  Where Stand By Me was a drama that featured comedic elements, Kings of Summer is the opposite.  This is a hilarious film that offers up as much comedy as it does heart, which is blended together perfectly.

The entire cast is outstanding and fans of Offerman’s Ron Swanson character from Parks and Recreation will be pleased to know he plays a similar role. He brings just as many laughs, however he’s slightly less one-dimensional in this film.  The breakout performance comes from Moises Arias however.  He steals the scene anytime he’s featured and will have you rolling with every odd look and strange comment that comes out of his mouth.

While every aspect of the film succeeds, it’s the colorful cast of characters that elevate this film into something great.  Even the minor characters like Alison Brie, who plays Joe’s sister, completely owns the role.

This film is a marvel to look at as well.  The visuals are outstanding with some incredible cinematography by Ross Riege.  The lush forests are so vividly captured and the sparse use of slow motion simply adds to the film’s charm.

Kings of Summer is a fantastic film and an absolute must-see.  While the marketing machines tout it as being Superbad meets Stand By Me, it’s really its own movie with its own distinct voice and should be regarded as such.

If it sounds like I’m gushing over this film it’s because I am.  It’s a film that resonates with me and reminds me of my days as a youth going on adventures and exploring with friends.  It reminds me of the times when I would just want to escape from life and seek out a world where it was just me and my buddies.  It also reminds me of how, despite wanting to leave, it’s always nice to go back.

~Be sure to check out our interview with director Jordon Vogt-Roberts Here.