The Kings of Summer
|The Kings of Summer|
|Directed by||Jordan Vogt-Roberts|
|Produced by||Tyler Davidson
|Written by||Chris Galletta|
|Music by||Ryan Miller|
|Editing by||Terel Gibson|
|Studio||Big Beach Films
Low Spark Films
|Distributed by||CBS Films|
|Running time||94 minutes|
The Kings of Summer (originally Toy's House) is a 2013 American independent coming-of-age comedy-drama film that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and received a limited U.S. release in May 2013.
Joe Toy (Nick Robinson), on the verge of adulthood, finds himself increasingly frustrated by the attempts of his single father, Frank (Nick Offerman), to manage his life. Declaring his freedom once and for all, he escapes to a clearing in the woods with his best friend, Patrick (Gabriel Basso), who was also sick of his life at home with his annoying and seemingly lame parents, and a strange kid named Biaggio (Moisés Arias) who just happened to follow along. He announces that they are going to build a house there, free from responsibility and parents. Once their makeshift abode is finished, the three young men find themselves masters of their own destiny, alone in the woods. Joe claims himself and Biaggio to be the hunters, while Patrick goes off to harvest (which is ironic because Patrick is the strongest one there). Several weeks pass and Patrick and Joe are reported missing and appear on multiple news channels.
Conflict arises between Patrick and Joe when Joe invites his crush Kelly (Erin Moriarty) to come see the house they built. After a while, Kelly takes a liking to Patrick and the two begin a relationship with each other. Joe passively confronts Patrick in a monopoly game by teaming up with Biaggio to trade land and buy hotels in the orange monopoly in front of Patrick's piece, leading him to lose the game on the very next turn. The two both get into a scuffle. Joe calls Kelly a "cancer" and a "bitch" who ruined the peace and harmony the three of them were having and eventually makes her walk out of the house in despair. Joe, realizing that Patrick feels bad for Kelly, taunts him to go comfort her and stomps on his previously broken foot. Patrick leaves the house and goes after Kelly, comforting her with a kiss. Biaggio, who has grown a strong friendship with Joe, is told to leave as well as Joe wanted to be alone, leaving Joe to live by himself.
About a month later, Joe is still living alone in the woods. Realizing he was low on money, he sets out to hunt his own food, eventually leading him to kill and eat a rabbit. Joe, not disposing of the body properly, attracts a snake into the house and eventually stop at a stalemate amongst him and the snake. Kelly goes to a concerned Frank saying she can take him to Joe. While doing so, they find Joe cornered by the presumably venomous snake (actually a harmless bullsnake) that appeared the night before. Biaggio comes barging in and attempts to kill the snake with his machete, but gets his leg bitten, causing him to fall to the floor, vomit, and pass out. Frank, Kelly and a mildly feral Joe rush Biaggio to the hospital. Biaggio does survive and tells Joe he would rather get bitten again, then says he wouldn't.
Joe and Patrick's parents each drive them home. As they see each other through the cars, they flip each other off jokingly and part ways. The film ends showing shots of the still living house Joe, Patrick and Biaggio built.
After the credits, Biaggio is seen still residing in the house in the woods.
- Nick Robinson – Joe Toy
- Gabriel Basso – Patrick Keenan
- Moisés Arias – Biaggio
- Nick Offerman – Frank Toy, Joe's father
- Alison Brie – Heather Toy, Joe's sister
- Megan Mullally – Mrs. Keenan
- Marc Evan Jackson – Mr. Keenan
- Eugene Cordero – Colin
- Mary Lynn Rajskub – Captain Davis
- Thomas Middleditch - Rookie Cop
- Erin Moriarty – Kelly
- Angela Trimbur – FacePaint
- Kumail Nanjiani – Delivery Guy
- Austin Abrams – Aaron
- Craig Cackowski – Mr. Larson
- Lili Reinhart – Vicki
- Cristoffer Carter - Construction Kid
- Hannibal Buress - Bus Driver
- Tony Hale - Bus Passenger
The film was director Vogt-Roberts' first feature film and was based on screenwriter Galletta's first produced script. Filming took place in the summer of 2012 in various locations across Ohio, including Cleveland, Chagrin Falls, Lyndhurst and South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville.
The film premiered on January 19, 2013, during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival as Toy's House. The title of the film was later changed to The Kings of Summer. It was shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival on April 3, 2013.
The film received positive reviews and currently holds a 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating: "Thanks to charming performances and endearingly off-kilter spirit, The Kings of Summer proves to be a slight, sweet entry in the crowded coming-of-age genre."
According to Sheila O'Malley of the Chicago Tribune, "despite some beautiful sequences and solid acting, the script by first-timer Chris Galletta pulls its punches, over-explains the emotional meaning of its moments, and tries to lighten the mood in sometimes awkward sit-com-style ways, betraying the movie's more honest spirit. The Kings of Summer flirts with profundity, seeming to yearn for it and fear the honest expression of it at the same time. There is much here to admire, but the overall impression is of a film that does not have the courage of its convictions."
Upon the film's August 2013 UK release, Mike McCahill of The Guardian said "If David Gordon Green had made Son of Rambow, it might have looked something like this: a sunny and reasonably funny coming-of-ager"; he concluded "The director's background in online shorts manifests itself in an occasional, montage-heavy scattiness, and the broadly conventional closing act can't quite maintain the laugh rate, but there's a lot of warm-hearted and commendably daft business along the way.
The film made it onto Complexs Best Summer movies of 2013 list at number 17 and Not Made in Chelseas Best Films of 2013 list at number 4.
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