When I was little, my parents used to try to dress me and tell me what to eat and do parental things that normal parentals do for their 4-5 year olds. I hated that. I really resented being told what to do, and therefore resisted all of their attempts to control me a fierce energy that, had I applied it to my schoolwork, could have taken me very far in life. I went so far as to give myself an epithet, which totally defeats the purpose of epithets because they aren’t impressive unless someone else gives them to you but I hadn’t read The Odyssey yet, so I didn’t know that. I called myself “Grace DeVoll, Boss of Her Own Body,” because yes, I was just that precocious. Cartoon character that I may have been, I wasn’t alone in my desire for independence. All children want to be set free, to try to take care of themselves, to be treated like grown ups, at least a little bit. Which is why everyone who has been or is a child should go see Kings of Summer.
Why live when you can rule, right? Yes. Absolutely yes. This amazing movie – which is kind of a Superbad meets Moonrise Kingdom meets Stand by Me meets The Sandlot meets Garden State – is about reclaiming independence, relieving oneself of the clutching, suffocating grasps of parents – just for the summer! Or maybe forever! – and running away into the woods to build a home from scratch and bathe in rivers and smoke cigars around a campire embracing nature. It’s fun, hilarious, and full of heart.
Moises Arias, the former Hannah Montana star who plays Joe and Patrick’s quirky friend Biaggio, is 100% the highlight of the movie. I don’t know what it is about his cute little face / weird body language / ambiguous sexuality but mmmhmmm does he get me. Biaggio’s absurdism and humor somehow manage to ground the movie and its characters – as if Biaggio’s existence, lending to the Three Musketeers-y feel of the story, was what turned two best friends into three best friends into family. Also, Biaggio is just plain hilarious. Also, he carries a machete around. Just in case.
One of the most heartfelt moments in the movie is when Biaggio tells Joe he’s gay:
“Joe, I’m gay.”
“Are you… sure?”
“Yes. My lungs fill up with fluid when the seasons change.”
My main / only qualm with the movie was the love interest plot, in which super foxy/blonde Kelly (Erin Moriarty) proves quite the heartbreaker to protagonist Joe Toy. Maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me so much if a) Joe (Nick Robinson) weren’t so hot or b) Erin Moriarty were a brunette (I have a personal bias + brown hair), but the love story didn’t feel emotionally honest. Because the rest of the movie rang so true to teenage emotions, the juxtaposition between Kelly-plot & non-Kelly-plot was exacerbated, and I found myself noticeably less comfortable watching all scenes in which Kelly was involved.
Other highlights include: Alison Brie as Joe Toy’s older sister. Megan Mullaly as Patrick’s neurotic and irrational mom, and Nick Offerman as Joe’s grumpy and crotchety dad, or: the reason Joe runs away. So go see Kings of Summer! Or get the fuck off my blog before I knock your dick in the dirt.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s the oh-so-charming trailer: