Features

‘Kings’ adds layer to coming-of-age tales

The school year hasn’t gone well – assignments missed, opportunities to ask out that “special girl” botched. And for Joe Toy (Nick Robinson), the summer ahead doesn’t look much better.

He shares a house with his widowed dad (Nick Offerman), a guy who inspires fear – and sarcasm.

Joe wrecks Dad’s dates. Dad curses Joe out for all those peccadilloes that “aren’t cute anymore.”

Joe’s pal Patrick (Gabriel Basso) is a nervous wreck, dealing with smothering, overly attentive parents (Megan Mullally is his hilarious mom) and his dread of summer.

So Patrick is down with Joe’s craziest idea – running away from home, building a shack in the woods, and “living off the land.” With their crazy hanger-on not-quite-pal Biaggio (Moises Arias), they have found a remote spot where nobody’ll find them – but a spot not so remote that there isn’t a Boston Market close by, should living off the land not work out.

If they don’t starve or run out of cash, if their parents or the cops or the community-wide search parties don’t find them, they’ll be “The Kings of Summer,” masters of their fate and their domain.

A TV writer and an online Funny or Die vet concocted this amusing, sentimental “Superbad” with less edge, a teen boys’ fantasy, roughing it, impressing the girls and coming of age.

The leads are pleasant enough, but the adults all but steal the show. Offerman gives Joe’s dad an acerbic ticking-time-bomb quality. Mullally (Offerman’s real-life wife) plays a goody two-shoes mom who has never heard a cross word from her kid, and wouldn’t tolerate it if she did.

“Kings” staggers down that fine line between sentimental and snarky, a tale of nature and nurture and first love that manages more charm than any R-rated movie about horny teens has a right to.



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