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This Nick Offerman coming-of-age yarn isn't perfect, but there's nevertheless quite a lot of fun to be had here....
Sony / 93 Minutes / 2013 / Rated R / Street Date: September 24, 2013
It’s a fascinating discussion point – one can almost imagine it intriguing studio brass in a pitch meeting: what if in a coming-of-age tale a la Stand by Me, the story’s focus switches from the kids out having a live-affirming adventure on their own to the parents who linger in terror at the disappearance of their progeny? What if every fort built and game played was countered by lonely dads and moms having breakdowns at local restaurants because they don’t know how their kids could have fallen off the grid?
These are facets of The Kings of Summer, the new Jordan Vogt-Roberts film that attempts to balance both grown-up and adolescent aspects of the melodrama at hand. Of course, most of the movie rightfully focuses on the deep-forest adventures of three adolescent young boys desperate to leave behind the tyrannical world their parents have concocted for them, but with the forceful comic push of Nick Offerman as one of the boys’ on-edge fathers, The Kings of Summer takes on an acidic and deliciously dark feel.
Vogt-Roberts doesn’t go all the way with his touchy-feely tale – as frequently intense as it can get, one has the impression that the director keeps his kid-gloves on during The Kings of Summer’s more potentially difficult moments – but this is a straight-to video gem that will absolutely find an appreciating audience on high-def. Offerman alone will be enough for many viewers to invest in a Redbox rental, but he’s only one piece in the overall puzzle here. The Kings of Summer may not be as assured and moving as it could be, but it’s nevertheless quite easy to fall under its lazy-summer spell.