Twitter Plot Summary: A trio of friends head out into the woods and build their own house, away from their parents.
Five Point Summary:
1. Oppressive home atmosphere.
2. Ramshackle home in the woods.
3. Parent search.
4. Girl trouble. Standard.
Two best friends and a slightly creepy kid (they don’t want to get rid of him because they’re scared of what he may do if spurned) decide to get away from their oppressive home lives and build a house in the woods. In one instance it is a genuinely oppressive atmosphere – Joe struggles in his relationship with his father who maintains strict discipline following the death of Joe’s mum. His best friend Patrick, meanwhile, finds himself oppressed by his parent’s cloying niceness. The third kid, Biaggio, is quite small compared to the others, and very weird to boot. We don’t get as much of an insight into his life beyond his friendship with Joe and Patrick, but there’s enough there to know that, despite his weirdness, he appreciates their company and they appreciate his, to an extent.
Kings of Summer perfectly captures the spirit of a summer break from school, albeit one taken to its extreme by escaping to the woods. The friendship between Joe and Patrick is believable, more so when they come to blows over a girl. As they spend more time in the woods Joe falls foul of his own rules (he goes to a minim-mart for food rather than hunting wild animals, for example) and the friendship fragments, it occurs almost exactly as it would in reality – hormones getting in the way of everything else, true to form. It’s also easy to see on this basis why both Joe and Patrick have such an adverse reaction to their parents as they are very similar in personality which naturally leads to conflict.
The script is nicely offbeat and amusing throughout. Why else would Biaggio be there other than to provide a palpable sense of weirdness? In fairness he does also act as a counterpoint to Joe and Patrick, able to see their friendship from an outsider’s perspective and offer his thoughts, whether they’re taken on board by the others or not. Nick Offerman is a deadpan delight, finding the right balance between slightly stand-offish parent and clearly caring for his son yet trapped in his own circle of grief.
Further support is provided by Mary Lynn Raksjub and Thomas Middleditch as police officers investigating the boys’ disappearance, and they provide further deadpan funnies alongside Offerman. A scene where they herd a group of local parents together to search through the woods maintains that offbeat tone and clearly wouldn’t happen like that in reality, but it works within the context of the film so it’s easy to let this one slide.
If you can level any complaints against the film, it’s that the resolution is a little too convenient for what precedes it, and everything is tied up a little too neatly. The reaction of the parents to the boys’ disappearance too seems like an afterthought and you don’t get the impression that they are really too bothered about finding their sons. Still, this isn’t a huge complaint and doesn’t detract too much from the enjoyment that Kings of Summer provides.