watch the kings of Summer online putlocker

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Summer promises an escape for most kids, whether that be from the pressures of every day life, the expectations of growing into an adult or even the noise inside one’s head. That seems to be the main detriment to high schooler Joe’s (Nick Robinson) search for freedom. In the opening of The Kings of Summer, Joe is taking a makeshift birdhouse to class, only to find that he’s a week late, with most students and teachers having prepared for a summer without schoolwork. Similarly, his home life is cluttered by an overbearing father, still recovering from the departure of his wife with cutting sarcasm and slow-burning antagonism. Joe needs to get away.

One night, the discovery of a seemingly unexplored tract of land in the forest sparks Joe’s imagination. Visiting friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso), the two hammer on an old Super Nintendo (suggesting, perhaps, that they are analog kindred spirits, of sorts) while they debate their disdain for mundane, every day life and eventually opt to put Joe’s woodwork skills to use. Within a couple of weeks, the duo erects a convincing makeshift house with the help of eccentric loner Biaggio (Moses Arias), an alliance that confuses the two since they have little idea how he got involved or what he wants.

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Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts clearly used films like Stand By Me as his templates, with their R-rated language and lawless child frontier setting. At first, Joe’s presence is spare at home, leaving by day to put hammer to nail, staying out of the way of his father Frank (Nick Offerman). Frank, in turn, minimizes his conflict with the boy, which seems to stem from a stringent set of rules and regulations and a hardline approach to chores. Frank and Joe both have a certain stubbornness, with Frank’s emerging through disapproving sarcasm and droll insults. It’s a bitter counterpart to the kid’s endless enthusiasm. Frank’s attitudes have wrapped him in a bubble, to the point that Joe’s taunts in front of one of Frank’s dates forces him to end the night. Floundering as he sends mouthy Joe to his room, Frank shuts down the date in a desperate move to regain control of the household.

It’s unfortunate that, once the idyllic woodland abode has been established, Kings finds itself spinning in predictable directions. The boys run away, taking to the forest and living off the land, securing dinner by what animals they can catch (and whatever restaurant exists beyond the overpass) and hiking and swimming through under-explored areas. At certain points, there’s the sense that The Kings of Summer wouldn’t have a purpose for existing without this location, as if the filmmakers discovered this wide open space and decided it would be the ideal location for a film.

Like all conflicts in these types of movies, it erupts over a girl. The boys’ alcove is a secret until Joe decides to share it with pretty blonde Kelly (Erin Moriarity), only to find her drawing closer to Patrick. It’s a predictable, substanceless dilemma, given that Kelly is presented not as a character but as a goal to be attained. Contrast that with Biaggio’s identification, as he quietly tells the boys that he identifies as female, a reveal met with slight disapproval by these two middle class, heterosexual white boys. Biaggio’s “otherness” was already reflected by his hyper capability at wilderness survival and freakish athleticism, naturally ostracizing him from Joe and Patrick. The way he delicately shuns hetero-normative behavior somehow makes him less knowable within the narrative, not more, as the film has no interest in exploring his conflict. Which is fine, of course, except that the other option just isn’t very appealing, watching these two similar alpha males pine after the same blonde dream girl.

Soon, the parents realize their children are missing, creating a subplot where they have to hunt clues to their whereabouts. Vogt-Roberts comes from a sketch comedy background, earning attention with the pathos from his comedian-fueled short Successful Alcoholics, balancing laughs with the story of a deteriorating relationship due to alcoholism. Successful Alcoholics ran somewhere close to twenty minutes, but Kings strains to reach feature length and that’s with the increasingly-disconnected nature of the parents’ search, which seems to exist solely to provide the film’s supporting cast with laugh lines. The escalating anger results in snippiness from Frank, though it’s laced through gag routines where Frank makes a fool out of some unwilling straight man, as if Vogt-Roberts wants to tell a good story, but can’t let go of a decent gag. Similarly, he reveals himself as a comedy geek by casting the likes of Thomas Middleditch and Hannibal Burress in the background for certain moments, suggesting a fun future DVD extra, but a distraction given that they are meant to be funny in thankless roles. Kings of Summer no doubt would have thrived as another short film, but at feature-length, the seams show.

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