Shown at Sundance under the title Toy's House, Jordan Vogt-Roberts' The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age tale that touches a lot of bases and explores a variety of tones in ways that most films are too timid to do.
Based on a witty, imaginative script by Chris Galletta, The Kings of Summer focuses on a pair of teen pals. Joe (Nick Robinson) lives with his father, Frank (Nick Offerman), a gruff widower who has moved on past his grief. Joe is angry that his dad doesn't seem to feel the same sorrow Joe does at the loss - because Frank has started dating.
His friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) lives with both parents (Marc Evan Jackson and Megan Mullally), who smother him with attention, yet seem barely engaged in his life. They still see him as a child, as they try to pull the strings on his life.
The boys escape to the nearby woods, where Joe happens upon what seems like the perfect little hidden grove: a clearing that's not only hard to find but which is perfectly sheltered from the rest of the world. Inspired by his frustration with his father, Joe enlists Patrick and another friend, Biaggio (Moises Arias) to build - no, not a clubhouse but an actual house. They'll disappear from their lives and live off the land.
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