The Kings of Summer

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Kings of Summer Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Funny teen coming-of-age story has swearing, some drinking.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
The three main characters come of age in this story. They learn, somewhat, how to be self-sufficient and take care of themselves. They also learn that asking for a little help isn't a bad thing. They suffer through some betrayals -- both in romance and friendship -- but they find themselves wiser and more understanding. A father and son also learn to mend their fractured relationship.
Positive Role Models & Representations
You wouldn't really want young teens emulating these characters -- especially when it comes to running away from home, stealing from their parents, and drinking while underage. But they're genuinely good people, and they do learn some valuable lessons about family, friendship, and trust.
The main character traps a rabbit and kills it (off camera). He then carries it back to camp, skins and cleans it, and cooks it. It appears to be a real rabbit, with blood shown. Characters often argue with one another, albeit in a playful way. A snake bites a main character, who is subsequently rushed to the hospital. In an early scene, a school bully steals the main character's shirt. Main characters play a violent "shooter" video game.
There's a brief scene about a teen boy masturbating in the shower, but nothing  is shown. A couple is shown heavily making out.
"F--k" and "s--t" are used several times, by both teens and adults. "C--t," "c--k," "piss," "bitch," "bastard," "d--k," "goddamn," "hell," and "Jesus" are also used from time to time. A middle finger gesture is shown.
The Boston Market restaurant chain is a large part of the movie's plot. The game of Monopoly is a smaller part. Barbasol shaving cream is shown. A character works on a snack wagon at a golf course, and many snack brands are glimpsed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An early scene takes place at a big high school drinking party, with a keg that goes empty. The main characters attend the party but are denied drinks on account of being freshmen (though the school year has just ended and they're now rising sophomores). The movie's main teen female character is shown to be drunk at the party. In a later scene, two of the main teen characters are shown casually sipping beer in the woods but aren't shown drunk or overindulging. Adult characters are shown smoking cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age dramedy about freshmen/sophomore-age high school students. Like Stand by Me, the strong language is the main reason for the movie's "R" rating. Words include "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," and "c--t." There's also some teen drinking, mainly at a big party early in the film, and then some casual beer-sipping later on. There's a fairly intense scene of a character catching and skinning a rabbit, which appears real. Characters often fight and argue as well. Though there are some romantic stirrings between teens, there's little more than flirting (older characters are seen kissing), though one scene does suggest masturbation in the shower (nothing graphic is shown). Overall, the characters mean well (despite some iffy decisions/actions), and the film has worthy messages about friendship and self-sufficiency.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bywittlemama June 14, 2014

One of my favorite movies

We happened to pick this movie one night when we were trying to find a movie we could "all" watch. This movie was so funny we were saying some of the... Continue reading
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 February 4, 2014

One of the funniest teen movies you'll see

I'm a sucker for absurd humor, and this movie had it in cloves. I laughed so frequently in this movie I had to strain to hear the next line of dialogue aft... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach November 24, 2020

Similar to stand by me

A lot of this movie was similar to stand by me but some parts were different.
Teen, 17 years old Written byDejavoo1224 May 14, 2018
its a great movie

What's the story?

At the end of his lackluster freshman year in high school, Joe (Nick Robinson) has gotten fed up with his cynical father (Nick Offerman). And his friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) is so annoyed by his strange, cheery parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) that he's getting a rash. Fortunately, Joe has the perfect solution: They'll run away into the woods, build their own house, and live like kings. The very strange, philosophical Biaggio (Moises Arias) joins them. Their adventure works, and they start to learn new and interesting ways of being in the world. But at the same time, new frictions come up: friendships are tested, and parents never stop looking for their missing kids.

Is it any good?

Coming-of-age movies are generally a dime a dozen, but with this one, first-time writer Chris Galletta and Funny or Die veteran director Jordan Vogt-Roberts have created a breath of fresh air. The witty characters take action in their world and are allowed to succeed and fail alternately. They feel real and sympathetic, in spite of the cartoony nature of the movie's humor.

And although the parents are definitely stereotypes, they're also smart and allowed to fail, and they likewise earn our sympathy. The director employs many simple moments of life unrelated to the plot -- such as the opening "drumming" scene -- to add a specific summery, relaxed, wide-open mood to the movie. The casting and performances are faultless, and the three young leads make a terrific comedy trio together, generating a specific, unique chemistry. The Kings of Summer could become a young person's classic, destined to be rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether strong language is/should be enough of a reason to restrict teens from seeing a movie about characters their age. Teens: How prevalent is swearing in your life? Does it make a movie more or less relatable to you when it has that kind of language?
  • Kings of Summer shows teens drinking in two scenes. Could the movie have done without these scenes? Are there consequences for the drinking? Are they realistic?
  • What's the relationship between the teen characters and their parents? Are these relationships realistic or exaggerated for humor?
  • What's the most important thing the characters learn in this story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

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