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The Kings of Summer 2013

Critics score:
75 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine: It's easy enough to drift along with this slight, quirky charmer and when the puffed-up dramatic stuff gives way to the central theme of a father and son reconnecting, the film really works. Read more

Stephen Holden, New York Times: So what if much of it doesn't add up? It's still kind of fun and is embellished with clever cinematic flourishes. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: A light-stepping kids comedy for grown-ups. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: Starts out as a raunchy teen comedy, slips into nature-epic mode, then adds a romantic triangle and finally finds a comfort zone in family-sitcom land. Read more

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club: Uneven, haphazardly constructed, and over-reliant on hackneyed symbols of yearning for independence and self-sufficiency. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Sometimes, a movie just has a magic about it, something that makes you look past implausibility and plot holes and whatever other shortcomings it may have and leaves you feeling good just for having seen it. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: A stylish and very funny teenage coming-of-age story graced with surreal fringes and a mysteriously hushed core. Read more

Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader: Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts cut his teeth on network cable series and Internet comedy shorts, and it shows. Instead of developing a genuine perspective he simply repeats the same few stylistic gestures ad infinitum. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: [The Kings of Summer] has some vitality, but it sinks into cliche just the same. Read more

Mick LaSalle, Hearst Newspapers: Once they go into the woods, the movie becomes as interesting as watching kids hang around and play with sticks. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: In its small, independent way, "The Kings of Summer" rules. Read more

Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com: The Kings of Summer is the cinematic equivalent of an Arctic-cold popsicle on a Sahara-hot day. Refreshing and satisfying but not overly sentimental, the film taps into the frustrations of adolescence with warmth and wit. Read more

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: While plot-wise it's a little slender, not to mention heavy on studied eccentricities, Jordan Vogt-Roberts' debut feature also has a generous share of rewards. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: The film starts unraveling fast as fable and reality collide in messy ways. But for a brief moment the kings have their day in the sun. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: A warm and affectionate comedy about that last great summer when you're 13 or 14 and you don't realize just how much your life is about to change and things will never be the same. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: A slim and wistful independent picture. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: "The Kings of Summer" invokes [John Hughes movies] without Xeroxing them, creating its own little oddball suburbia. Read more

Mark Jenkins, NPR: In form and sensibility, the movie is closer to a sitcom. First-time feature director Vogt-Roberts is a veteran of TV, and he retains its preference for the quick payoff and its over-eager pursuit of yuks. Read more

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: If the structure establishes a calculated distance, the movie's raw materials feel just rough-hewn enough to draw us in. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: Less a movie than a checklist of indiecinema cliches. Youth on a journey of self-discovery? Got it. Dead mom? Uh-huh. Wounded and entitled when it's trying to be soulful, plotless, laden with indie rock and entirely overhyped at Sundance? Checkarooney. Read more

Michael Sragow, Orange County Register: This willfully eccentric tale about teenage boys in suburban Ohio fleeing their families to live in the deep woods plays like an erratic comic revue slapped together at theater camp. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: One senses the filmmakers were going for something more profound and transformative than what ended up on screen. Read more

Sheila O'Malley, Chicago Sun-Times: There is much here to admire, but the overall impression is of a film that does not have the courage of its convictions. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Vogt-Roberts makes the scenery look great, but doesn't call the plays that could make the movie score. Scenes don't develop, characters don't evolve except in indie-movie-cute ways. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The sharp wit, soft-focus cinematography and slow-motion lyricism lift it into the realm of this summer's nicest surprises. Read more

Nell Minow, Chicago Sun-Times: Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and writer Chris Galletta bring a fresh and sympathetic eye to the story, evoking the pleasure of what feels - for a little while - like endless possibilities. Read more

Geoff Pevere, Globe and Mail: The foundation of a much better movie is buried somewhere beneath the debris that's too quickly piled on to The Kings of Summer ... Read more

Bruce Demara, Toronto Star: An unconventional coming-of-age story that's likely to appeal to the rebellious teen in all of us. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: The perfect hot-weather diversion for audiences who want summer movie escapism without summer blockbuster gigantism. Read more

Catherine Bray, Time Out: Coming on like Stand by Me meets Son of Rambow, the boys' adventure is essentially dreamy indie-teen wish-fulfilment. Read more

Eric Hynes, Time Out: Eager to please and easy on the eyes, The Kings of Summer sails right down the middle, safely tacking between sitcom setups and grandiose MGMT-scored montages without forming its own distinctive feel. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Like the fading of day into twilight, the ephemeral nature of youth is deftly captured in The Kings of Summer. Read more

John Anderson, Variety: Toy's House, Jordan Vogt-Roberts' debut feature, is a full-on fairy tale, and one that could win plenty of friends with its absurdist, caustically funny take on adolescent agitation. Read more

Inkoo Kang, Village Voice: As nostalgic projections of boyish freedom by a couple of thirtysomething dudes, the so-called kings are good-enough jesters, but I couldn't help wishing they would shut up more and let the grown-ups talk. Read more

Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture: For all its humor and fleeting moments of beauty, The Kings of Summer feels like a cluster of cheap narrative devices posing as a finished film. Read more