What if Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden not to get away from civilization but to get away from his parents? That’s the conceit, more or less, behind “The Kings of Summer,” a stylish and very funny teenage coming-of-age story graced with surreal fringes and a mysteriously hushed core. The feature debut of screenwriter Chris Galletta and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the movie’s ultimately less than the sum of its parts, but those parts are so breezily written, staged, and played that you’re grateful to tag along.
The filmmakers are lucky, too, to have Nick Robinson playing their lead character, Joe Toy, a disaffected Ohio 15-year-old who drops off the suburban grid and, with two friends, builds his own house in the woods. Another relative newcomer, Robinson is average-looking, almost generic, but he gives his character a wit and a stubbornness that’s immensely appealing.