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Three rebellious teens rule the woods in Jordan Vogt-Roberts The Kings of Summer

“There’s no time in the woods…”

Oh to be fifteen again. Living at your parents place, feeling old but still so desperately young, doing anything to rebel what the ol’ folks say—even if it is just sneaking out your window to booze it up with some friends in an abandoned field late one night. That’s sort of the case in The Kings of Summer, except for there’s no parents getting in the way. Ohh no.

Joe (Nick Robinson) is smart. His dad (the very funny Nick Offerman), who’s a very lonely widower, is always on Joe’s case for whatever reason. And of course Joe’s always one to retaliate—pulling things like exposing his dad’s secret racism at “family” game night in front of his new girlfriend Carol, and being an all-around teenage smart aleck. Pretty witty and quick for such a youngin’.

One night at a party things get shut down by an angry nearby neighbor. Hundreds of teens flee the scene, and Joe is left with the mysteriously “always there” Biaggio (Moises Arias)—who turns out to be a very sharp young lad himself (his dad was on the Challenger!). The two maneuver their way through the woods to avoid any encounters with the law, and hours later when the sun finally rises, Joe has an epiphany: why be a prisoner at home, when you can live in the mystical forest and rule?

His best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso), who’s also dealing with some over-the-top parental control (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) (they still call TV “the cable”), is with Joe 100% on his idea, but isn’t completely sold on it. After some minor persuasion over the next couple of days, realizing his parents are driving him nuts, the next thing you know, Joe, Biaggio, and Patrick are picking up construction scraps and pocketing cash from their parents for the ultimate summer getaway.

At first, things are fun! Besides the fact the three have been reported missing and the cops are on the hunt to find them, and without admitting eating KFC everyday is probably not the healthiest diet, these guys really make it work. But when Joe’s love interest Kelly (Erin Moriarty) pays a visit, things don’t go exactly as planned (do they ever?), and Joe is left more frustrated and alone than he started out.

The Kings of Summer is a beautiful movie (filmed right in Chagrin Falls, Ohio!) that’s as much nostalgic for growing up in the Midwest as it is cynical on life and failure. It is the perfect mix of comedy and drama, with a very Parks and Rec-like humor (I mean, the cast says everything!). For anyone who’s ever been just a fifteen year-old experiencing that rather frustrating “in-between” age, Kings is enjoyably funny and is sure to tug on the heartstrings.

(photo via Rope of Silicon)

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Kaitlin Duffy is a writer from Cleveland. When she's not blogging or pondering the great complexities of the world and outer space, she is finding rare vinyl steals, visiting new places, laughing often, Instagramming everything in sight, watching movies, or working on her first feature Port de Cleve.