"I'm happy to be wherever my parents are not." This, from "Kings of Summer," fundamentally explains a quirky film that isn't like any other coming of age film. Three teenage boys are not merely running away from. When the instigator of the escape comments "I guess we all just get hungry," this begins to flesh out what their adolescent behavior is running to.
The hunger runs toward eating lots of chicken; toward spontaneous drumming; toward fashioning a surprisingly easy to construct home; and generally conquering a secret wilderness conveniently placed next to their overbearing suburb. Sweetly in proportion, there's also girlfriend tension.
About that descriptor, "quirky," it's up to you whether that lures you toward or pushes you away from the film's ready charms. Easier to like than the more surreal and impressive quirkiness of last year's "Moonrise Kingdom," "Kings of Summer" attaches imaginative storytelling bits onto exaggerations of normal.
Several years ago, people 40 years younger than I am explained to me that the label "random" is a compliment. In that vein, I was primed to accept the random scripting creativity as more effective than haphazard. Most glaringly random is the splicing of a third guy onto the pair of long standing best friends who run from under the thumb of their parents.
The third teen is ... what? The third teen is something akin to an Italian leprechaun with delusions of well-grounded truth. This weird young man contributes well to the film’s essentially good hearted core.
“Kings of Summer” doesn’t establish something to look to again and again like a “Breakfast Club” or a “Ferris Bueller.” It runs a bit loose compared with the airtight writing of a “Juno.” That said, it puts a fresh spin on well-worn aspects of the teen movie and a peculiar lilt into a summertime movie outing.