8 September 2013 | Sergeant_Tibbs
Little more focus and decisiveness on styles could've helped this one soar.
The coming-of-age subgenre is one well-trodden. But it's one that deserves to be constantly updated through the generations and moving technology though it's hard not to be repetitive. Fortunately, they can bend to any genre and any style which means there's always that perfect one you can connect to. Although I haven't seen it just yet, this year's The Way Way Back seems intended as mainstream nostalgia whereas The Kings of Summer is definitely in the contemporary indie vein though it seems to want it in all the styles and all the genres. It's ambitious to have a script that wants to be part comedy, part serious and part comic. But it never decides if it wants to be realistic or surrealistic and it really hurts the flow of the film. I quite liked its ideas on paper, however basic they were, but in execution, it falls short. It's not because it's without energy, in fact, it's full to the brim, but it's so overdone and forward that it hasn't earned it. Characters simply aren't well developed enough before the story kicks off.
It seems quirky for the sake of quirky, serious for the sake of seriousness. It's like Moonrise Kingdom plus Into the Wild. While there's a realistic atmosphere, some of the aspects just aren't convincing, such as the core one of the kids building a house themselves. The severe factor that isn't convincing are the motivations. It's not enough. However, its emotion and comedy do work, but only in shards and that's due to the style. Nick Offerman is absolutely brilliant as the miserable father and he's the most consistent bright spark. Great to see him have more than a bit-role in a film. The photography is the highlight, perhaps the thing they thought about the most, almost like an instagrammed version of Mud, and it has some 'how did they do that?' shots. But I wish the editing didn't chop it up so much, the whole film feels like highlights rather than the whole story. The Kings of Summer is a mixed bag, but mostly enjoyable. A lot of focus and decisiveness could've helped it by the bucketful.