I watched this indie flick recently and have to say it’s one of the finest films that I’ve seen – even outside of the usually disposable genre of teen-comedy-dramas that it belongs too – and stands shoulder to shoulder with other poignant, coming of age american classics like ‘Stand By Me‘, ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘The Breakfast Club‘ (to name but three). It features well rounded characters and great dialogue, full of idiosyncrasies, witty remarks and amusing banter – without being forced or contrived – remaining true to the people it portrays, their lives and the setting.
An additional bonus is the score and choice of music used in the film, which is consistently excellent and offbeat, perfectly suiting the changing moods of the story without being obvious, trite or guilty of crass, commercial product placement like so many other movies are these days. I can just imagine some suited corporate executive desperately exclaiming at one of their meetings: “Wait gang! Let’s shoe-horn that latest Rhianna track into this sci-fi blockbuster about an alien invasion! It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the movie’s themes, setting or tone right? As long as people hear it an’ go out an’ buy it in droves – that’ll be awe-some! Riiiight?! *COUGH!* Man, I can’t wait to get paid! Got’a get my mouth an’ throat disinfected professionally after sucking on Satan’s steaming hot member all week…”
Ahem, but I digress… The score was composed by Ryan Miller (who is lead singer and guitarist for the band ‘Guster‘) and features choice tracks from Thin Lizzy (if you don’t know who they are you’re either very young or don’t have eyes or ears), MGMT, Youth Lagoon, The Orb (feat. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry), and Kevin Writer and Douglas James (as ‘The Skywalkers‘).
The film comes from an original screenplay written by Chris Galletta – which is his first produced script – and it’s also Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts debut full length feature, so it’s doubly impressive how deftly they and the entire production team have executed the whole thing. All of the choices made for the project are excellent, even down to the placement of leaves littering the exterior locations (maybe I’ve gone too far with that, but what the hock, I’m laying down some serious praise here). The casting and performances by all of the actors – including the smallest walk-on part or cameo – are superb and all perfectly suited to their roles bringing some inspired comic and dramatic weight to their roles and this really helps make the whole thing feel cohesive, slick and exude quality.
Young actor Moises Arias who plays the oddball ‘Biaggio’ (and can be seen more recently – playing another wacky ‘B’ – ‘Bonzo Madrid‘ in the film adaptation of the first novel of Orson Scott Card‘s existential sci-fi saga ‘Ender’s Game‘ – which, incidentally, being a great appreciator of the books – I also thought was superb) is especially notable. Arias is a real find, and some might not consider him much to look at, but he’s fascinating and hilarious to watch, with a great dramatic range and excellent, precociously comic sensibilities for someone of his age. This is not to say that any of the other cast featured in the film are in anyway inferior, it’s just that his character is the most eccentric and stand outs because of it.
The film feels classic but is very much a contemporary piece and somehow taps into that nostalgia feeling of similar movies like those mentioned above (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_teen_films#1980s for a comprehensive list) without being a weak homage or losing it’s cutting edge.
Rent/buy/stream it and watch THE KINGS OF SUMMER here:
Visit the film’s official website:
Buy and listen to the films soundtrack/score here:
LINKS TO STUFF I’VE MENTIONED IN THE POST:
Buy/rent and watch ‘STAND BY ME’ here:
Buy/rent and watch ‘THE OUTSIDERS’ here:
Buy/rent and watch ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB’ here:
Official website of sci-fi/fantasy author ‘ORSON SCOTT CARD’:
Buy/read the book ‘ENDER’S GAME’ here:
Rent/buy the movie adaptation of ‘ENDER’S GAME’ featuring Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Moises Arias here:
Official website of the ‘ENDER’S GAME’ movie adaptation:
Official webpage of Ryan Miler’s band ‘GUSTER’:
Buy and listen to their music here:
Official website of ‘MGMT’:
Their track/s featured in the film can be found on this album ‘ORACULAR SPECTACULAR’ and you can buy and listen to them here:
Official website of ‘THE ORB’:
The track/s featured in the film can be found on this album ‘THE OBSERVER IN THE STAR HOUSE’ and you can buy and listen to it here:
FAT POSSUM RECORDS artists page for YOUTH LAGOON:
The track/s featured in the film can be found on this album ‘THE YEAR OF HIBERNATION’ and you can buy and listen to it here: