Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dallas IFF 2013 Review: THE KINGS OF SUMMER- Javi and Jonesy's Take

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Written by Chris Galleta
Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Megan Mullally.
Synopsis: Three friends decide to build their own home in the woods so they can run away from home.

THE KINGS OF SUMMER will play again today, April 11th, at 10:15 p.m. at the Magnolia Dallas.

Jonesy: THE KINGS OF SUMMER was very funny and there were certain points where I laughed so hard that I missed dialogue. Then, I was surprised at how serious the film was able to be. It’s very well balanced, and I loved that.

Javi: KINGS was definitely more of a comedy with small traces of drama, in my opinion. To quickly set up the story, the movie is about three friends, Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Gabriel Basso), and Biaggio (Moises Arais), who find a clearing in the forest and decided to build a house, so they can run away and live on their own. It's all about their time in the forest trying to live and feeling like manly men. It's interesting that the last few movies that I've loved at festivals have been about kids: I DECLARE WAR, MUD as examples. Kids are good at symbolizing and mirroring adults' struggles. Kids think that we have our stuff together, but in reality, we don't. 

Jonesy: It’s a very simple and relatable story. Most people have thought of running away at some point growing up. If you’re an awkward teen, and things don’t go the way you want them to, so the simplest solution is to just leave. By the time you're a teenager, you see just how flawed your parents are because when you’re little, you think that they’re infallible. But then you realize they’re passive aggressive, kind of mean, and take stuff out on you just because you're there. Unlike Joe, Biaggio, and Patrick, most don’t act on the running away idea.

Javi: So very true. I liked how the movie also as a commentary on a somewhat culture backlash against the uber metrosexual guys. Nowadays there are more sites and articles of teaching men “how to be men” and learning how to build things, put meat on the grill, and that sort of stuff. It's like men don't know how to be "men" anymore. But then what you see is that the boys in the film end up cheating a lot, especially regarding the food situation. It’s indicative of how they want to talk the talk but don’t want to walk the walk.

Jonesy: I agree and then they get into a couple of situations where they like the freedom of running away, but they can't completely handle the aspects and hardships of gathering your own food and water.

Javi: I thought that particular issue was done really well in this movie. In regards to the story again, there were a few scenes where they didn't really have a point to them, and they don’t add anything to the plot. At first, I thought the scenes where Patrick and Joe’s dads hang out was a little weird, except they ended up revealing a lot of interesting insights as to their relationships and the whole “kids mirror the parents.”

Jonesy: There was a feeling even though the kids were friends it didn't necessarily mean the parents liked each other. It was probably Joe's mom that was the glue between them, and now Joe's father, Frank (Nick Offerman), doesn't know what to do or how to really parent now that she's gone. Frank's story arc was very well done. He ended up being a more well-rounded character than I was expecting.

Javi: I say this with a heavy heart, but I think Joe's sister, the Alison Brie character, didn’t do…too much for the story. Maybe she’s just there to show Joe’s problem with the dad isn’t just about Joe, but the dad is just a jerk to everyone. She doesn't do much, and there were too many scenes with her weird boyfriend, who I swore was gay.

Jonesy: He was funny in one scene, AVOCADO MEAT!

Javi: I also felt there were some needless cameos like Kumail Nanjiani from the Nerdist as the Chiese food delivery guy. It just felt like someone was in dire need of a favor. It’s nothing too terrible of a detriment to the movie. It also never felt badly paced at all. I was always entertained.

Jonesy: Some of the montages felt…

Javi: I loved all of them!

Jonesy: Really? Even when they randomly slow down action sequences?

Javi: They were great.

Jonesy: It just felt that those were from a different movie and didn't seem to fit or feel right. They were all beautifully shot, but they just felt a tad off.

Javi: Don’t agree. I loved them all. I can’t articulate why I like them but I just did. Unlike sometimes when montages can slow films down, I never felt that with this movie.

Jonesy: They didn't slow the movie down, but it just felt someone else was directing it all of the sudden.

Javi: To each their own. Now, moving on to characters. There's Joe, who instigates the running away, and his father, Frank. There is Joe's best friend, Patrick, wrestler with an injured foot and has nice but terribly overbearing parents. Then there's Biaggio.

Jonesy: He completely steals the film with some of the best lines and comedic moments. I don’t mind at all that he's on this adventure with Joe and Patrick, but I just don’t like how he was introduced and how he became part of the group is very lazily explained. All Joe mentions is that he's afraid to tell Biaggio to leave.

Javi: I just don’t see that as a problem. I've seen those types of kids back in the day who just stick around.

Jonesy: He could have been written as a weird next door neighbor, or a classmate that's been in the same class as Joe since kindergarten.  

Javi: That just sounds nitpicky.

Jonesy: That’s just my opinion.

Javi: And I’m saying that it’s ok that you’re nitpicky.

Jonesy: There just could have been better way to introduce that particular character and establish the trio’s relationship. Going back to the kids mirroring their parents. It's obvious how Joe acts more like his dad than he would like. And there's a scene where Joe throws a chicken leg on the ground, and then Patrick goes off on him and telling him that he needs to properly burn the scraps and keep them away from the house. You know this would be something that his mom would have said.

Javi: Whoa! You’re right. I never thought about it like that. I just figured that since Patrick just saw a freaking snake skin, he was being a little more cautious.

Jonesy: I’m curious to know how many of the lines were scripted or improvised. It sounds like there was a lot more improvisation. What’s even better is that this a highly quotable movie. This movie will end up easily being one of my favorites of the festival. I’m always wary of the "coming of age" movies. It’s well directed, funny, and even though there’s some language, I think this would be a fantastic movie for teenagers. Also Biaggio wins everything. 

Javi: I quite enjoyed it too. It had one of the leanest scripts I’ve seen this festival. There was never a dull moment. Whatever social commentary is trying to pull off based on my interpretation is well done. It’s a funny movie with a lot of heart, and you need that for movies like this.

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