The Kings of Summer

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The Kings of Summer
The Kings of Summer.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJordan Vogt-Roberts
Produced by
Written byChris Galletta
Music byRyan Miller
CinematographyRoss Riege
Edited byTerel Gibson
Distributed byCBS Films
Release date
  • January 19, 2013 (2013-01-19) (Sundance)
  • May 31, 2013 (2013-05-31) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million[1]
Box office$1.4 million[2]

The Kings of Summer is a 2013 American independent coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts[3] and starring Nick Robinson, Moisés Arias, Gabriel Basso, and Nick Offerman. The film premiered under its original title Toy's House on January 19, 2013, at the Sundance Film Festival[4][5] and was released by CBS Films in a limited release on May 31, 2013.[6][7][8]

Plot summary[edit]

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. After a family game night that ends with Joe calling the cops on Frank for false reasons, Joe declares freedom once and for all, and escapes to a clearing he found 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 tag 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 gather fruit. Several weeks pass and Patrick and Joe are reported missing and appear on multiple news channels. Frank finds a Monopoly piece from the game night in Joe's bookbag that was left on a bus and believes that Joe is taunting him.

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. 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 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 after her and stomps on his previously broken foot. Patrick leaves the house and goes after Kelly, comforting her with a kiss. Biaggio, who has become good friends with Joe, is told to leave as well, leaving Joe to live by himself.

About a month later, Joe is still living alone in the woods. Short 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. Meanwhile, Kelly goes to a concerned Frank and says she can take him to Joe. When they arrive, they find Joe cornered by the presumably venomous snake that appeared the night before. Biaggio asks his father, who is shaving, if you go to Hell for leaving your friend, to which his father replies "Of course." Biaggio comes barging in the makeshift house and attempts to kill the snake with his machete, but is bitten by the snake on the ankle instead and collapses, becoming violently ill. Frank, Kelly and a mildly feral Joe rush Biaggio to the hospital. Joe and Frank reconcile. Biaggio survives and tells Joe that he saw heaven and if he had to do it all over again, he would do the same thing, but then changes his mind.

Joe and Patrick's parents each drive them home. As they view each other from their respective cars, they flip each other off jokingly and part ways. The film ends showing shots of the house Joe, Patrick, and Biaggio built.

After the credits, Biaggio is seen still residing in the house in the woods.



The film was director Vogt-Roberts' first feature film and was screenwriter Galletta's first produced script.[9] Filming took place in the summer of 2012 in various locations across Ohio, including Cleveland, Chagrin Falls, Lyndhurst and South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville.[10]


The soundtrack consists of music created by Ryan Miller. Other songs in the movie are MGMT's The Youth, Youth Lagoon's 17 and other indie/alternative songs.


The film had its world premiere on January 19, 2013, during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival as Toy's House.[11][12] Shortly after, it was announced CBS Films had acquired distribution rights to the film.[13] 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.[14] The film was originally scheduled for a June 14, 2013 release date, however, it was moved up to May 31.[15][16] It received a limited release, and expanded to more theaters over the next few weeks.[17]


On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 76% based on 112 reviews, with an average rating 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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."[18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19]

Sheila O'Malley of the Chicago Tribune wrote, "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."[9]

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."[20]


  1. ^ "Staten Island native Chris Galletta's 'Kings of Summer' hailed as a sleeper hit of the season". Staten Island Advance. October 2, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  2. ^ The Kings of Summer at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "The Kings of Summer". ClevelandFilm. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  4. ^ Anderson, John (January 20, 2013). "Toy's House". Variety. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "Sundance London Festival 2013: The Kings of Summer". April 25, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  6. ^ "Sundance Hit The Kings Of Summer Gets Timeless And Fun First Trailer". CinemaBlend. April 15, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  7. ^ "Sundance London – The Kings Of Summer Review: A Joyous Coming Of Age Movie". WhatCulture. April 23, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  8. ^ "'The Kings of Summer' trailer: Nick Offerman is just your average suburban dad". InsideMovies. April 17, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  9. ^ a b O'Malley, Sheila (June 7, 2013). "The Kings of Comedy". Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  10. ^ "Why Filming In Ohio Was The Best Thing Ever For Sundance Darling "The Kings Of Summer"". BuzzFeed. April 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  11. ^ "Sundance Hit 'The Kings of Summer' Drops First Online Teaser". NextMovie. March 22, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  12. ^ "Watch: New Trailer for Sundance Comedy Favorite 'Kings of Summer'". FirstShowing. April 15, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  13. ^ Siegel, Tatiana. "Sundance 2013: CBS Films Acquires 'Toy's House' (Exclusive)".
  14. ^ O'Connor, Clint (April 3, 2013). "Cleveland International Film Festival 2013 kicks off tonight with 'The Kings of Summer'". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  15. ^ The Deadline Team (27 February 2013). "CBS Films Dates 'Kings Of Summer'". Deadline Hollywood.
  16. ^ Patten, Dominic (21 March 2013). "CBS Films Moves Up 'Kings Of Summer' Release Date: Video".
  17. ^ "11 summer movies not to miss". NBC News. May 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  18. ^ The Kings of Summer at Rotten Tomatoes
  19. ^ The Kings of Summer at Metacritic
  20. ^ McCahill, Mike (21 August 2013). "The Kings of Summer – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-08-23.

External links[edit]