The Kings of Summer posterThe Kings of Summer is no Stand By Me. But it does try to be. So two points for effort! The Kings of Summer is a pleasant little coming-of-age dramedy about three friends who spend the summer building a house in the woods and ‘living off the land’. The ramshackle house is their escape from the typical perils of teendom: parents who don’t understand, bullies at school, girl troubles.

The Moonrise Kingdom-esque indie features a talented cast including: Nick Robinson as Joe, the mastermind of the group; Gabriel Basso as Patrick, the best friend who keeps getting roped into Joe’s little schemes; and Moises Arias as Biaggio, an eccentric and unpredictable kid who tags along, uninvited but gradually embraced. (Note: Arias is probably best known and recognized by Disney Channel grads. He played Rico on Hannah Montana.) Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) also shines as Joe’s widower Dad, Frank.

The Kings of Summer is sweet and quirky and occasionally funny. But it never quite captured my full attention or sympathy and it didn’t break any new ground in the genre. It’s fine if you’re looking for a harmless (very soft ‘R’-rated) indie about friendship and family. But you may want to wait for The Way, Way Back, opening July 5. I liked that coming-of-age dramedy way, way more.

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