The Kings of Summer Review

The Film

Ah, teenage. Those golden days where you turn from child to adult with little in the way of pain, acting out or embarrassment. From the sprouting of hair where you never expected to uncomfortable emissions, we all love turning into the well-rounded person who will attract beautiful people for the rest of our lifetime. Or not as it's actually a fucking agony filled with humiliation and physical nightmares that range from unwarranted sexual excitement to the destruction of your skin by craters and pus.imageKings Of Summer is an American indie film dealing with these very rites of passage in the shape of three teenage boys in modern small-town America. Joe, has a widowed father whose misery is contagious, Patrick has hives from the irritation of his controlling parents who never listen, and Biaggio is plain odd. After one too many inter-generational fights, the three young men venture into the woods to build their own summer house and enjoy freedom from their respective parents. Our three young men fend for themselves in the great outdoors, their parents go wild, and only young love can ruin it all.

Filled with an excellent supporting cast, Jordan Vogt-Roberts' film is beautifully played and pitched intelligently at those who can remember their adolescence without the need for rose tinting as well as those currently enduring it. Avoiding the pitfalls of making the story about popularity or becoming a "swan", we get something more challenging and truthful - rebellion, cruelty and the joy of not answering to people whose authority lies in simply creating us.imageThe three young men prosper in the woods, developing camaraderie, independence and strength of character. They may not always keep to their hunter gatherer oaths and their naive acceptance in nature is pointed out by the final act, but they grow whilst their parents reflect on why they've left home. As the two principals, Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso are very good with Robinson being the poetic nerd whilst Basso is the more tough and masculine.

Yet, the best performance in the film comes from their little guy friend, their comic companion, if you will. Moises Arias as Biagio gives one of the most charismatic and weird turns you could ever witness. His way with his strange facial features and his ability to cast peculiar looks and scowls suggests a truly gifted physical comedian, as does his brilliantly off-centre reading of his lines. He makes Chris Galleta's script far funnier and edgier than it could have possibly looked on paper.imageStill single performances don't make a good movie and it is the way that the whole cast create the world of these kids that is most impressive. Sure, there may be "learning" ahead and perhaps the sloppy amongst us will enjoy a moral or two, but this is charmingly done and an obvious companion to Stand By Me as a better example of a rites of passage film.

The Disc

Studio Canal present the film on a region B locked BD50 that uses about 60% of its capacity. The menus come accompanied by the musical interludes from the film and illustrate a single special feature. This featurette is shot during the filming of the movie, with lots of contributions from the cast, the writer and the director. We learn that the summer house was built from found materials, that Offerman is the driest wit you may ever meet - even when he is being nibbled by ferrets - and that the cast love one another (don't we always?). This is a standard definition extra.imageThe transfer is presented at 2.35:1 at a rate of 23.98 frames per second, using the MPEG 4/AVC codec and at a filesize of around 28.5GB. The transfer is very good and working from digital source materials still retains a relatively natural film-like look. Black levels are spot on and the colour balance is nigh perfect. Two lossless options are provided, an LPCM stereo track and a master audio 5.1 mix. In the latter, effects are mixed right across the soundstage and the outdoor environments benefit from the LFE track. Still this ain't no action movie so don't expect a thorough work out for a surround system. Sadly there are no subs for the hard of hearing.


Really fun entertaining flick given a good transfer and lossless sound - recommended.

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