The Kings of Summer (Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2013)

What's it about? Exasperated with their oppressive home lives and annoying parents, teenage friends Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso), together with their odd little friend Biaggio (Moises Arias), build a shack in the woods and run away to live in it. Will their dream of independence be all that they imagine?

Is it any good? Imagine if Terrence Malick made a film that was warm, and funny, and, like, good? Well then you'd have The Kings of Summer, a charming combination of arthouse, indie sensibilities (with slo-mo photography, arty montages, etc) and traditional coming-of-age drama (with girls, teen angst, etc). It's a mixture which works quite nicely thanks to appealing performances and some genuinely hilarious moments and lines. Yes, it's a slight tale and fairly implausible at times, plus it maybe tries a bit too hard to be deliberately off-kilter. But even if it is likely to fade from memory like those summer holidays of long ago, it's a gentle, winning little film, which is frequently very funny. And it's likely to have you feeling nostalgic for those teenage summer days when you too built a fort, and explored the woods, and kissed a girl for the first time. In fact, it's kinda inspired me to have a go a building a fort in the woods sometime soon. And to kiss a girl again.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Much acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, before going on to solid reviews on widespread release. Some found it a bit too offbeat, but many drew favourable comparisons with the similarly themed Mud, which I recently reviewed here, Wes Anderson's quirky Moonrise Kingdom and, naturally, Stand By Me, which remains a cornerstone of this genre. But for me, it was a long-forgotten TV memory that bubbled up when the sentimental juices started flowing, and it was with no small amount of poignancy that the following show was brought to mind. Readers of a certain vintage might well prepare themselves for a serious trip down memory lane....

What does the Fonz think? Summer livin', happened so fast, summer livin', had me a blast.

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