The Kings of Summer is a 2013 independent film, following three teenage boys who are seeking their own freedom and authority in the wilderness after they’ve decided to run away from home during the summer.
Joe (Nick Robinson) is in a seemingly never-ending conflict with his father, Frank (Nick Offerman) and is frustrated with this relationship. Joe, we soon learn, has a history of rebelliousness and causing trouble, even going so far as to call the police making false claims. His best friend Patrick (Gabriel Russo) is also having trouble at home, with his parents constantly babying and hovering over him, he can’t seem to relate. It’s gotten so bad that he’s developed hives out of sheer anxiety being around them. And, then, there’s Biaggio (Moisés Arias). Biaggio has attached himself to the other two boys and is along for the ride, but there’s something not quite right with him. Joe and Patrick will have to navigate his quirkiness and odd behavior.
These three young men have set out to the woods, claiming a stake by building a makeshift house and surviving off of the land. It all seems to be going great until it no longer is. Difficulties arise, along with tensions and disagreements.
At home, Joe, Patrick, and Biaggio are now being searched for. Patrick’s parents think he’s been kidnapped, but Frank, Joe’s father, quickly knows that they’ve run away, it’s par for the course for Joe, after all. He isn’t too worried about it.
The Kings of Summer is a coming of age tale, exploring the relationships between friends and between father and son. In our modern age, this film is an escape from the mundaneness of summer and the overload of technology many young people face. Some of the scenes in this film make for some beautiful shots of nature, showing off the wilderness’ grandiosity but also its ability to isolate a person.
This movie is also funny. Its humor is dry but refreshing and welcome. It embraces weirdness at its core, making for a fun, interesting adventure that stands out from other stories.
For the young stars, especially Nick Robinson and Gabriel Russo, this film affirmed their talents in acting. Robinson, in particular, would go on to play roles in Being Charlie, Jurassic World, and Love, Simon.