There's something about the first few weeks of summer that makes anything seem possible. The days are long, the air is fresh, the world is full of possibility, and everyone is prone to youthful flights of fancy. The Kings of Summer, the first feature film from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Successful Alcoholics, Mash Up), begins in this place. Jim Toy (Nick Robinson) is not having a great time: he's fed up with his dad (Nick Offerman); he has a crush on Kelly who is dating a senior; and he might have just failed shop class. His best friend, Patrick (Gabriel Basso), is just as fed up with his overbearing parents, played by Marc Evan Jackson and Megan Mullally. One fateful night, after fleeing a kegger by the lake, Nick and Biaggio (the weird kid from school) stumble upon a strange clearing in the woods. Nick hatches a plan to build a house in the woods and recruits Patrick and Biaggio. The boys attempt to live on their own in the woods so that they can become "real men."
There are, of course, complications. Lack of food, snakes, weather and girls eventually take their toll on the boys. I won't spoil any of it, but I will say that The Kings of Summer is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. The cast is really strong and the performances come off as very authentic. This may be because someone had the audacity to cast three teenagers to play teenagers. The cast also spent several weeks taking improve classes together and the onscreen chemistry really shows. If you see one movie this summer, see Kings of Summer; you won't regret it. It somehow manages to be funny, and sentimental without being stupid.
But wait, you must be asking yourself, why are you reviewing this movie that was shot in Ohio of all places? Well, first of all, The Kings of Summer is an awesome movie. Secondly, it has tons of connections to Southeast Michigan. Director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is from Royal Oak. Also, his best friend from high school and good friend of Damn Arbor, Jon Wilcox (Journal of a Shut-In), did the concept artwork, designed the boy's house and helped Jordan scout locations for the film. Three of the actors, Marc Evan Jackson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Eugene Cordero are also from the region. In short, you should see The Kings of Summer when it comes out in Detroit on the 7th. It is a really great movie and by supporting it, you are striking a blow against all of the terrible dreck that Hollywood tries to cram down our throats. Maybe if we're lucky, the Michigan or State Theater will show it.