The Kings of Summer 
Directors: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Screenplay: Chris Galletta
Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Megan Mullally, Marc Evan Jackson
Running Time: 93 minutes
There’s always a girl.
We’ve heard it all before: two best friends who do everything together have their friendship tested when a girl comes between them. True friends are able to overcome such difficulties, but it isn’t always easy.
Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso) are two such best friends. Both are growing increasingly detached from their current mundane summer, largely because they can’t stand their parents. Joe’s father, Frank (Nick Offerman, in one of his best performances yet), is a bit of a hard-ass who is miserable to everyone around him because he himself is miserable (this is told to him point blank by his daughter, played by Alison Brie). Patrick’s parents, Mr. (Marc Evan Jackson) and Mrs. Keenan (Megan Mullally), are overprotective and about as square as it gets. They are constantly making groan-worthy comments.
One day, while walking home from a party, Joe discovers a wide-open space in the middle of the woods. This moment is something of an epiphany for him — in his eyes, this large area would be *perfect* for a house. He gets his buddy Patrick in on the idea, and together with the help of a peculiar peer named Biaggio (Moises Arias), they scavenge materials and begin building their own private hideout. The house actually turns out quite well (it doesn’t fall down, anyway), and the boys decide to run away from their homes altogether and live here for the summer.
It’s here in these woods where the film shines. We get to watch these guys bond in a way that only teenagers can, and they do their best to hunt, gather and otherwise survive on their own. Things get a little rough when Joe invites his current crush, Kelly (Erin Moriarty), to their hideout. Naturally, adding a girl to the equation changes everything, and the friendship between Joe and Patrick is shaken at its core.
The Kings of Summer is very much a “coming of age” film, and a lot of what it sets out to do has been done before. Yet it still manages to be a very enjoyable film overall. The kids, namely all three of the boys, do well in capturing the feelings of youth — who hasn’t, as a kid, wanted to escape from reality and live on their own away from adults? While it may be somewhat less believable today — can teenagers really go days, let alone weeks, without internet access? — the film still nails that fun sense of adventure.
The cast of young actors are all fun to watch and they should all have bright futures in the business, but the real star of the film is Nick Offerman. It’s always fun to watch him in his comedic roles, but he does so well here in a rare dramatic take. His character does make his fair share of wisecracks, but they come at inopportune times. Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson are also quite good as the hilariously lame parents.
The Kings of Summer has some issues with its script — some of the dialogue is forced, and a few lines feel like they could have been Juno outtakes — but it’s a fun, carefree ride while it lasts. The perfect lighthearted antidote to this summer’s bombastic blockbusters.