Words: Emmett Barlow
There are films which have a unique quality; the ability to encapsulate the ideals and wants of a generation – offering a visual lexicon which can provide the perfect antidote to the haunts of contemporary trends. For me it was Toy Story, and with every re-watch there is still a fleeting response to pull out my old toys. Undoubtedly the generation before are transported to the times when they indulged in leg warmers, neon coloured clothes and shocking perms when consuming any of the greatest hits from the Ringwald or Broderick back catalogue.
With his credentials as a graduate from the Funny or Die Presents academy, Jordan Vogt-Robert’s The Kings of Summer is easily one of the best films to tackle youth and adulthood in recent times, and a film that will no doubt come to represent and inspire a generation – it also features some of the best sparse “moustaches” ever seen on-screen.
Joe (Nick Robison) rests on the cusp of adulthood, and in an act of defiance and reprieve from the frustrations towards his paralytic relationship with his dead-pan single-father Frank (Nick Offerman), rallies two friends – the loyal and dependable Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the weird lunatic singularity Biaggio (Moses Arias) – to move into the derelict woodlands in the wide peripherals of his home town; to build their own castle, live off the land and absorb the summer.
Any story involving defiant boys, adventure and the woods immediately draws parallels to Stand by Me, and there are similarities to the catalogue of films which deal with adolescence, but here there is more humour balanced with tenderness. In addition, The Kings of Summer spurred within me with a sense of longing… you could call it poetic; a poem which dexterously maps that vast cavity of adolescence whilst reminiscing over the somewhat forgotten endeavours of youthful emancipation – acts lost in the ties of adulthood. And like good poetry it is well paced whilst being shamefully compressed by the contractions of its medium, leaving the viewer grasping for more time to indulge in these extremely tangible characters, in this hugely desirable situation and in a beloved, greatly missed time