The Kings Of Summer - Blu-ray Review

'Lord Of The Flies for the Instagram generation'

Providing a good calling card for first time feature director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, The Kings Of Summer is an intriguing 'boys in the woods' film of not insubstantial comic quality. Boasting a background involvement with Funny Or Die, it's little surprise to see Vogt-Roberts pick out a handful of laugh-out-loud moments during the course of his tightly managed film, giving particular room to the oft-hilarious Nick Offerman and clearly-very-talented Moises Arias.

The latter of those two provides effective support to leads Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso, a duo of friends who decide to eschew the troubles of teenage life and head out to build an implausibly large house in the woods, where they plan to feed off the land. Joined by the curious Biaggio (Arias) and a cast of occasionals, it's little surprise to find the trio eventually coming to question the wisdom of detachment, the true nature of their parents and the comforts of home.

Indeed, the main problem with The Kings Of Summer is that, eventually, Vogt-Roberts' never quite manages to convince us that his narrative is as important as he obviously thinks it is. There's a tentative discussion around sexuality during the final third that doesn't really go anywhere, whilst the early-teen love triangle that develops never really feels like it's anything more significant than that. Joe (Robinson), we are told early on, has lost his Mother, which is obviously tragic, but it never really feels as though the problems he and Patrick (Basso), in particular, face are anything more than the typical white middle-class disillusions of youth that Hollywood loves to cover.

Tonally too, the humour of Offerman, in particular, detracts from any of the serious points Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta (for whom this is also a debut) wanted to make. Offerman's interactions with a takeaway delivery man and an unfortunately stupid cop ('the boy who cried what?' / 'wolf' / 'fuck you') border on high-farce. There's perhaps a point being made about the occasional stupidity of adults (Patrick's parents are similarly awkward), but it's undermined by the presence of grounded duo Mary Lynn Rajskub, as a serious cop and Alison Brie, as Joe's confidante sister.

To supplement the slight lack of depth at it's heart, it is nice to see Vogt-Roberts and cinematographer Ross Riege pushing the boundaries of what this sort of Indie should look like. There's plentiful slo-mo and blurring around the edge of the frame; Lord Of The Flies for the Instagram generation, as the pair aspire to peers as great as, in certain shots, Terrence Malick. Perhaps, by the time you're watching another leaf in blurred, dappled sunlight, it will have gone too far for some, but the intention and execution is difficult to pick fault with for the most part, lending some gorgeous visuals to a slight-but-fun tale of escaping everyday teenage life to become a hipster-in-the-woods.

The Kings Of Summer is out on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 30th September.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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