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Why live when you can rule?
The tagline for the little known gem,
The Kings of Summer, reveals the desire
of so many youth to control their own
destiny. Feeling trapped in the midst of
school pressures and family issues, what
teen doesn’t dream of setting their own
rules and living independently? In light
of this, however, the ;lm also explores
the cost of this freedom.
Still dealing with the death of his
mother and frustrated by his father’s
(Nick O;erman) house rules, Joe (Nick
Without question, Joe’s journey is at the
heart of the ;lm. Unable to deal with
the struggle of an overbearing father,
Joe feels that his only recourse is to start
over. As he, Patrick and Biaggio begin
to build their new home, the audience
senses that this is the home they’ve
been searching for all their lives – a
place of limitless hope and freedom
from parental rule. While Patrick and
Biaggio capably manage their transition
into adulthood, Joe remains stunted by
anger and family hurt. Unable to rec-
ognize the needs of others and his own
brokenness, Joe begins to withdraw
emotionally and lashes out at those who
care most about him. As a result, his
inability to properly deal with his anger
eventually begins to destroy that which
they had worked so hard to build.
This is not to say that Joe does not experience any personal growth over the
course of the ;lm. Instead, the problem
is that so much of Joe’s growth is sti;ed
by his failure to confront the pain that
drives him. In moments of crisis, we are
faced with the choice to either run from
our hurt or cry out for help. By seeking counsel from God and others who
care, we’re often able to recognize some
sense of hope that we couldn’t see before. Too often, however, we choose the
same option as Joe and ;nd ourselves
;eeing into the woods to escape.
And it’s in these moments that we ;nd
ourselves in the most danger.
The Kings of Summer is available on DVD,
Blu-ray and digital download.