"“A wonderful throwback to 80s cinema...”"

Premiering in the United Kingdom at Sundance Film Festival London – The Kings of Summer is everything you expect and hope for from the annual event, bringing together the collaboration of a first-time filmmaker in Jordan Vogt-Roberts and debut writer Chris Galleta, to bring us a heartwarming and uplifting coming-of-age tale.

Best friends Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso) are fed up at home, both seemingly unable to live with their parents, particularly the former, who has a strained, incompatible relationship with his father Frank (Nick Offerman). In a spontaneous bid for independence, the pair join forces with their eccentric friend Biaggio (Moises Arias) in leaving home, building a house in the woods and moving in indefinitely. Although the parents are left distressed with their children missing, Joe is more concerned about the reaction of his crush Kelly (Erin Moriarty).

There is just something really charming about this title, with gentle elements of fantasy, as realism plays no part in this film – and although often that is a problem in films, within this it merely adds to the enchanting ambiance. For example, there is just no way three teenage boys with no previous history in construction, would be able to build a house with raw materials with such ease. One moment it's just a pipe-dream, and then having collected some scraps from a skip, next thing you know; voilá, a luxury woodland estate.

An inspiring and eclectic soundtrack assists this piece wonderfully, with some memorable sequences where atmospheric songs play out almost in their entirety. Vogt-Roberts has done a wonderful job in capturing that juvenile essence and naïve enthusiasm of adolescence, deliberately over exaggerating the most trivial of matters – yet those which mean the world when you're a teenager. The romance, the broken friendships and that mischievous sense of trouble is masterfully well crafted, as a film that wears its influences from films such as Stand By Me and The Goonies like a badge of honour.

On the negative side, there is a inclination to throw in some jokes that aren't quite funny and thus seem out of place somewhat. The screenplay just isn't quite punchy enough and steers towards quite elementary jokes, mostly left in the hands of the character Biaggio – who although being a wonderful comic creation, it can feel contrived at points. Another downfall is the tendency to opt for various gratuitous cut away shots, evidently filling time and gaps in the narrative – as we have a few too many slow motion sequences of the boys fooling around.

Nonetheless, here is a film that feels like a wonderful throwback to 80s cinema, and a film that simply can't help but leave you grinning from ear to ear. Such a sentiment is no doubt thanks to the fact that we conveniently disregard the more upsetting aspects to the film, not focusing too heavily on parents who have had to file their children as missing. Why let morbidity get in the way of a good heart-warmer, eh?