In the brilliant documentary film, “Official Rejection” it is discussed how the studios have hijacked the word “independent” and how true independent films have little to no chance of getting in a major film festival such as Sundance. However, times may be changing to where a real independent movie can make it into one of the bigger festivals, get bought so the rest of the world can see it. Case in point with “The Kings of Summer” a favorite at Sundance earlier this year and now playing locally around south Florida.
Three teenaged boys find a clearing in the woods and decide to build a house and live off the land. Two of the boys do it to get away from their overbearing parents, while the third, well he had the machete. As the parents grow frantic looking for their runaways, the boys take a journey of self-discovery.
After seeing “The Kings of Summer” it is easy to understand how the movie got accepted into Sundance. It’s certainly the kind of movie a major studio would never green light. If they did it would probably be given notes from a high end executive, who has never made a film of their own and by the end all the heart and soul would have been squeezed out of it. Luckily, that is not the case and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts got to tell the story he wanted. It’s a great outing for his feature length debut.
Roberts does a great job in collaborating with cinematographer, Ross Riege. The two came up with some intriguing shots and found playful ways to make the use of slow motion. “The Kings of Summer” appears to have a lot of improvisation done by its actors and the filmmakers made sure to keep the cameras rolling in order to capture all of it.
Speaking of the actors, the young cast assembled all do fantastic jobs with their roles. Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso play best friends, Joe and Patrick respectively. Lots of teenagers can’t stand their parents, but Robinson and Basso are able to wear their emotions on their sleeves so well. You understand the decisions they make without their characters having to say why, they show it through their acting. Then there is Moises Arias who plays Biaggio who may have landed one of the most memorable teenaged roles since Charles Mintz-Plasse played “McLovin” in “Superbad”. His character alone makes “The Kings of Summer” worth checking out.
There are some great studio summer blockbuster movies out there that are worth spending your hard earned money on. However, if you would like to take a break from all the explosions and big money special effects and just watch a nice, low budget affair that has plenty of laughs and heart on the way, then “The Kings of Summer” is a great choice. It is rated R for language and some teen drinking.