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Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias
Writing Credits:
Chris Galletta

In the ultimate act of independence, three teen friends decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 9/24/2013

• Audio Commentary with Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Writer Chris Galletta and Actors Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias
• Five Deleted and Extended Scenes
• “The Long Shot” Featurette
• “Frankly Speaking with Frank Toy” Featurette
• “Alison and Eugene” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Kings of Summer [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 17, 2017)

As long as nostalgia exists, so will “coming of age” films. In this genre comes 2013’s The Kings of Summer, a teen-centered piece with a bit of a twist.

Like most teens, Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso) find themselves driven nuts by the behavior of their parents. Unlike most teens, however, they decide to do something about their situation.

Along with an oddball kid named Biaggio (Moises Arias), Joe and Patrick decide to build a makeshift cabin in a remote clearing and hide from their elders during their summer vacations. We follow their experiences over this unusual break.

I admit that I greet films such as Summer with some trepidation. Even when set in modern-day, “coming of age” tales tend to be more about fantasy versions of their creators’ childhoods than current realities.

This hit home when I watched 2013’s The Way Way Back. While I liked parts of the film, it remained an odd attempt to make an 80s-based nostalgia piece set in the 21st century.

Some of that same attitude infuses Summer, as it rarely feels like part of its era. Of course, aspects of childhood remain universal, but I still think Summer crosses chronological realms in an awkward manner.

Era-related issues aside, Summer becomes a bit of a mess, and one that wears its influences on its sleeve. The film shows a clear Wes Anderson feel, especially as a nod toward 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom with its heavy doses of self-conscious quirkiness.

Throw in some Lord of the Flies and Stand By Me as well. These obvious reflections mean Summer often lacks much originality.

The film also jumps all over the place in terms of tone. While it occasionally wants to deal with some serious issues, it delves into broad farce and sardonic character comedy a lot of the time, and the various domains butt heads along the way.

In addition, Summer rambles an awful lot. It grinds to a halt for some comedic bits and loses steam as it goes. Eventually the movie becomes little more than a “boy jealous about a girl”, which means it sacrifices its original thematic thrust.

Some parts of Summer manage to entertain, but it adds up to less than the sum of its parts. The movie lacks coherence and turns into a mess much of the time.

Footnote: a post-credits bit pops up here.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

The Kings of Summer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a fair but not great image.

For the most part, sharpness satisfied. Occasional wide shots tended to be a bit iffy, but the majority of the flick demonstrated decent delineation and clarity. I noticed no shimmering, jaggies or edge enhancement. The image remained clean and lacked any source defects.

Colors were subdued. The movie preferred a somewhat amber feel and lacked many instances of vibrant hues, though the tones seemed fine; they were generally natural and full.

Blacks were dark and tight, but shadows tended to be inconsistent; low-light shots could be somewhat dull. Overall, this was a generally positive presentation but not a great one.

Similar thoughts greeted the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Summer, as it offered a decent but not great auditory experience. Sound quality was always good, at least. Music worked the best, as the score and songs demonstrated nice range and depth. Effects didn’t play a major role, but they seemed acceptably clear and accurate, while speech was distinctive and natural.

The soundscape lacked much to impress. Music dominated, as songs/score came from all around the spectrum. Effects had less to do, as they focused the realm of general environment. Due to all the scenes in the woods, nature added some pep – especially during a thunderstorm – but the soundfield remained low-key. Still, it did what it needed to do for a film of this sort.

As we move to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, writer Chris Galletta and actors Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, sets and locations, cast and performances, and a few other production areas.

While we learn the occasional filmmaking nugget here, most of the piece sticks with joking and insults. The participants mostly prefer to kid around and crack on each other. This means that actual information becomes pretty incidental to their antics, and this leaves us with a less than stimulating chat.

Five Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, seven seconds. We get a couple longer “kids in nature” montages as well as some quirky character bits.

The montages are unnecessary and tedious, while the other bits are moderately entertaining but not especially memorable. We also get raw footage of the “pipe drumming” sequence; this is more a “behind the scenes” clip than an actual deleted scene.

Three brief featurettes follow. The Long Shot goes for two minutes, 59 seconds and includes Galletta, Vogt-Roberts, Robinson and actors Alison Brie, Megan Mullaly and Nick Offerman. They tell us a little about the project, what attracted Vogt-Roberts and story/character elements. It’s not a total waste, but it’s pretty short and superficial.

Frankly Speaking with Frank Toy fills one minute, 21 seconds with movie clips. These focus on the Frank character and delivers a fake “inspirational message” tone. It’s an entertaining ad, but it’s still an ad.

Finally, Alison and Eugene occupies two minutes, 17 seconds and features a short interview with Brie and actor Eugene Cordero. They don’t tell us much in this cutesy piece.

The disc opens with ads for Inside Llewyn Davis, In a World and Stranger Within. Previews also includes promos for The To Do List and Bad Country. No trailer for Summer appears here.

As a “coming of age” movie, The Kings of Summer feels unoriginal. It nods toward too many influences and fails to turn into a coherent, compelling tale. The Blu-ray presents generally good picture, audio and supplements. Don’t expect much from this forgettable film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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