The Kings of Summer is about distances: the rapidly expanding gulf between parents and their teenage boys waiting to be men, the end of the school year and the far-off never of next fall, how things are and how we wish they could be. Jordan Vogt-Roberts' debut feature film follows three boys who, for their own reasons, take off into the woods together at summer break to escape their parents, build a house, and — to paraphrase just two tenets of their recited bond to each other — find their own food and be their own men. It spoils nothing to say they are successful in their quest to create a place of their own but that victory brings consequences, too. Chris Galletta's script is funny and quirky but the film finds its heart in the Ohio woods that become the boys' kingdom — a place of imagination and ingenuity, fire and fun.
The Kings of Summer opens the Cleveland International Film Festival tonight. The film festival runs through April 14. clevelandfilm.org