Staff Pick: Coming-of-age comedy “Kings of Summer” feels like home

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From the June 20, 2013 edition

The little indie comedy “The Kings of Summer” doesn’t feel like a summer movie. It feels like summer.

Maybe it’s the fact that it was filmed in Ohio (Chagrin Falls, near Cleveland), or maybe it’s the fact that it bears the influence of so many movies I love. Whatever the case, it is the cold glass of lemonade I needed.

It’s a deceptively simple story about three young boys filled with just enough teen angst that they decide to build a house in the woods and live off the land.

The end result is something like “Stand By Me” meets “Superbad” as seen through Wes Anderson-colored glasses. It’s funny and warm and has the kind of glow that makes it easy to overlook plot holes and other shortcomings.

The trio of young actors (Nick Robinson, Moises Arias, Gabriel Basso) is easygoing and natural. I was reminded of the chemistry of one of my favorite Wes Anderson flicks, “Bottle Rocket.” Belly laughs are also plentiful, thanks to a cast that includes Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally.

It’s also unexpectedly gorgeous, photographed with a lush naturalism reminiscent of “Tree of Life.”

Cynics could easily point out that “Kings” is awash in indie cliché, but summertime is no season for the cynic. Consider this critic officially charmed.