The Kings of Summer

Metal Gear Solid 3 screenshot

It’s interesting that we should get video game adaptation news the week when the best video game movie not based on a video game should come out. Hopefully everyone working on such adaptations will be looking at Edge of Tomorrow, as it could be something of a game changer (or should that be movie changer?). I have a feeling that Sony’s Metal Gear Solid, which is reportedly now finally moving forward with a seemingly strange choice for director almost officially attached, is a good property to follow its lead. About a year ago, I suggested that Jordan Vogt-Roberts would be the next great comedy director. I wrote, in a post highlighting his short film work, that the Kings of Summer helmer had what it takes to be the next Judd Apatow or the next spoof master. But the deal in Hollywood lately is that fresh indie comedy voices are the go-to guys for huge tentpoles rather than smaller, funnier studio pictures. We’ve seen Marc Webb land the Amazing Spider-Man franchise (which shares a producer with MGS in Avi Arad) and Colin Trevorrow head into Jurassic Park territory, for two examples. Now JoVoRo (as Vogt-Roberts should always be referred as) is next in line by going from a little teen movie out of Sundance to one of the biggest video game franchises of all time. Yet it doesn’t seem like an odd or shocking choice when I think about it.

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By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]

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Kings1

Sundance hit and bonafide charmer, Jordan Vogt-Roberts‘ The Kings of Summer continues world domination this weekend as it rolls out to thirty-odd new theaters, giving you fans of great teen cinema even less of an excuse not to catch the comedic gem on a big screen near you. To celebrate its theater expansion (and, also to celebrate just how much we love this film), we’re happy to be giving away a massive prize pack of five new alternative posters for the film. The new posters come to us from artists Rich Kelly, Jon Wilcox, Jay Ryan, eBoy, and Adam Schickling. Still better? The Kelly and Wilcox joints will arrive at your house signed by their artists. Want to decorate the walls of your newly-built summer hideaway with not one, not two, not even three, not even four, but five specially-designed posters for The Kings of Summer? Hit the break to find out how. You can also check out big versions of all five posters for your discerning eye to contemplate.

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Last weekend I posted a Short Starts column in celebration of the early work of Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a filmmaker who has done a lot of comedy sketches and short films in the past (including the popular award-winning Successful Alcoholics) and now has his debut feature, The Kings of Summer, opening in theaters. One of the pieces that I shared is a video consisting of well-known coming-of-age movie clips with the title “Toy’s House Rip-O-Matic Tone Reel” (The Kings of Summer was formerly titled Toy’s House), and I explained that I was pretty curious about its purpose in the development of the new film. Vogt-Roberts emailed me in response, and later we had a chat on the phone about that, his other works and a lot more. It was a long phone call. We discussed improv, which is something he’s clearly passionate about (see the youth organization Detroit Creativity Project, which he mentions) and the desire for more movies, particularly comedies, to better utilize the visual medium — he’s very passionate about this also. And he expressed his interest in directing a Star Wars movie. We also, of course, talked about The Kings of Summer and how it fits in with those topics. Well, maybe not with Star Wars. But I’ll say this: he’d probably deliver a decent installment of the franchise, especially one with humor and kids and woodsy locations. Are they looking to redo The Battle for Endor? Just kidding. Seriously, he’s one to really watch. And a lot of […]

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kings of summer

Parents have the capacity to be very annoying. When you’re a only freshman in high school, you don’t exactly have the luxury of avoiding them completely by just ignoring their phone calls. They are on you. All the time. In The Kings of Summer, fifteen-year-old Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) has officially had it with his overbearing father (Nick Offerman) and decides to move out on his own, albeit with friends Patrick and Biaggio (Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias) into the wilderness, where he can finally be his own man. Joe quickly learns that becoming one with nature – as well as living outside of the parental safety net – isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The film’s director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, making his feature film debut here, shows incredible promise. He creates a world that is very relatable and true in terms of how it deals with adolescent angst, but at the same time, there is an element of the fantastic peppered throughout, making the film consistently refreshing and entertaining. Though the film is somewhat mired by some predictable plot points, it wins on the whole with Vogt-Robert’s creative voice and the completely engaging performances from the three young leads.

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This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. In a few days, The Kings of Summer opens in theaters. One of our favorites out of Sundance this year (where it was titled Toy’s House), the coming-of-age dramedy is filled with big laughs, a huge amount of heart and great performances from a handful of young actors who are all sure to go places. Also on the rise now is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a veteran of web and TV work who now enters the big time with this feature directorial debut. In an interview with AFI this year, he declared that this is only the beginning for him with feature filmmaking: “That’s why i’m here. I grew up falling in love with movies and the worlds they created. That’s my priority and that’s where I want to be.” Fortunately for us short subject lovers, he’s not against continuing non-feature stuff on the side. He admits to enjoying all mediums, including commercials, and wants to do a second season of his Comedy Central show with T.J. Miller, Mash Up. Hopefully he also makes more legitimate short films, because he’s shown a terrific grasp for not just concise storytelling but also an awareness for what sort of running time suits a particular story. Thanks to Vogt-Roberts having a well-stocked Vimeo page, we’re able to see a lot of his prior short and sketch work, and this week I’d […]

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Toy

While most films that earn the title of “Sundance hit” tend to fall on the heavier side of cinema (we’re still reeling from this year’s influx of films about highly inappropriate sexual relationships), occasionally a Sundance favorite will end up being something fun, frisky, and genuinely crowd-pleasing. Such is the case with Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ The Kings of Summer (known at the festival as Toy’s House), a coming-of-age tale in the vein of Goonies, a feel-good film about growing up, busting out, and moving on. Starring the wonderful Nick Robinson as Joe Toy, the film tracks Joe’s seemingly wild idea to leave home for his own place in the woods – a ramshackle, handmade affair that soon also houses his best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the delightfully wacky Biaggio (Moises Arias). As fun as everything may be for the boys on this particularly crazy summer, it can’t last forever. After the break, plot your own escape from the tyranny of having Nick Offerman as your dad (trust us, it’s not all bacon and whiskey) with the first trailer for The Kings of Summer.

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