The Kings of Summer feels like it wants to be this generation's Stand By Me, but unfortunately all too often comes across as a short film that's been padded out by too much comic contrivance that feels like it's just been haphazardly thrown at the film to bump it up to feature length. The central idea is good enough, with a trio of boys embarrassed by their parents deciding to run away and build their own house in the woods where no-one will find them and fend for themselves as men, and when its focussing on them it's modestly engaging. Unfortunately when it cuts away to the parents, the film shifts tone into sitcom territory, and two very different incompatible sitcoms. Nick Offerman is basically asked to reprise his blunt, dryly insensitive plain speaking persona from Parks and Recreations, which offers some amusing moments, but Megan Mullally's irritating mother all too often is handed non-sequiters and the odd racist tirade that don't convince and seem an all too desperate attempt to get some easy laughs. The boys' rites of passage are rather more convincingly sketched even if they're not immune from some of the same broad brushstrokes in the writing - wouldn't you know it, one of them's an oddball outsider with a plentiful supply of comic quirks - but despite some good performances and appealing widescreen photography the film can't help feeling a lot longer than its hour-and-a-half running time.
StudioCanal's DVD offers a nice 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with a 20-minute behind the scenes featurette the only extra (the US DVD and Bluray has a cast and director commentary, deleted scenes and three different short behind the scenes featurettes).