INTO THE WILD
Trapped beneath the roofs of their domineering parents’ homes and longing for the freedom of adulthood, high school buddies, Joe, Patrick and Biaggio, decide to cut out the middle man (in this case, Father Time) and build themselves a makeshift home in the woods – a tangible yet mythical space in which they can, live, hunt, love and ultimately be free from the stifling realities of youth.
Numerous run-of-the-mill tags and genre buzzwords could be attached to The Kings of Summer, such as ‘coming of age’, or ‘sleeper hit’, but by the time you’ve reached the final few minutes of the picture’s 89 minute runtime you will have already realised it’s far, far more than a your typical sentiment loaded excursion into a revisionist silver-screen nostalgia. Its fusion of sun-blushed late 70’s to early 80’s youth dramas, such as Stand by Me, and surreal contemporary American comedy (Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development, anything starring Will Ferrell) perfectly accommodate one another. Not once (and I mean not once) does the film decide to coat its narrative and characters in a gooey, saccharine sentimentality that makes you want to brush your teeth. Instead, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, writer Chris Galletta, and cinematographer Ross Riege confront you with some aesthetically beautiful and brilliantly funny scenes that will hopefully act as reminders of those unremarkable yet unforgettable moments of youth which you have genuinely lived through or are in the midst of living.
All three leading men manage to dodge the curse of becoming an annoying and overly melodramatic young actor, but nineteen-year-old Moisés Arias is a standout in his role as group odd-ball Biaggio – an equally comedic but miniature version of Steve Carell’s brilliantly bizarre Anchorman alter-ego Brick. The cast in general is outstanding; fans of Parks and Recreation and Community will welcome the sight of the unmistakeable Nick Offerman and the captivating Alison Brie with open arms. Megan Mullally’s manic and mildly racist Mrs Keenan also proves irreplaceable as she is granted the funniest one-liners of the film.
The Kings of Summer is everything Michael Cera’s Youth in Revolt wanted to be (although the liberal presence of wispy moustaches may well be an affectionate nod to Cera’s attempt). You will laugh several times and not once will it feel cheap or juvenile to do so, yet nor will you be faced with a staid and preachy life lesson disguised as a film narrative. The Kings of Summer is essentially one big escape, a vastly enjoyable escape that will be hard to forget once the lights go up and you walk back out into reality.