Summer is officially over, but one of the best indie releases of the season reigns supreme. "Kings of Summer," out on DVD September 24, charmed audiences with its portrayal of teenage angst and mostly-innocent rebellion. Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Aria, all fairly new to the feature film scene, are those titular kings, high schoolers who escape the chafing grip of their parents and opt to build an elaborate fort and live off the land, trying their hand at catching animals (clandestinely buying food at Boston Market ends up being a better foraging technique), wooing their crushes (to mixed result) and letting loose in wild dances on top of giant, abandoned pipes (unqualified success).
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and boasting Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Alison Brie in supporting roles, audiences and critics alike embraced the movie as a representation of the listless yet driven mentality of the high schooler in summertime repose.
Aria, Basso and Robinson took the time to call us up and talk to us about what exactly they did this "Summer," a spirited debate about the varying quality of the "Expendables" franchise and their favorite coming of age movies.
It’s been quite the trip for "Kings of Summer" since you filmed it over a year ago. Now that it's made the rounds through the festival circuit and theatrical release and is headed to home video, how many times have you seen it? Do you like watching yourself on screen?
Nick Robinson: Um, no no no. I dunno, of the hundred screenings plus we’ve been to, I think I’ve seen it four times.
Is it just weird or uncomfortable? Do you get tired of the movie?
Moises Arias: I don’t think I’ve ever met an actor that's said they like watching themselves. It's just, it’s weird.
NR: No one’s gonna admit, like, “Yeah, dude, I really dig my own stuff. Like, it's so good."
Gabriel Basso: I think it's also, like, with everything, you know, you always look at something as this thing you made and criticize yourself for it. Especially in - they're gonna give me s**t for this - in soccer, you’re watching tape of you playing or do something, you'll be like, "Why the hell didn't I just drop my shoulder? The goalie was already leaning left" or something like that. You rewatch it and you’re just like, “Man, I could have made some different decisions and made that better.
NR: I'm just glad we got -
GB: F**k you, Nick. Get out of the way. F**k you, Nick. [laughing]
NR: I agree with Gabe. You know, you watch it and you just think how you could have done things differently, or how I could have approached the scene, in hindsight. There’s some s**t I can’t even sit through, but "Kings of Summer" is just such a talented cast and put together so so well, I could get through and actually enjoy it, too.
MA: It’s the only movie I can actually watch, so I’m glad that this is the one that went to all the festivals and I had to watch with all these guys.
That's high praise: People can sit through my movie.
NR: That's step number one.
Has anything surprised you about the reaction to the film? What do you hear from people the most?
NR: It gets compared a lot to other films. You know, the whole "Superbad," "Stand By Me" thing. Which is really flattering because both of those movies are hilarious and really good. People just say that it’s like a nostalgic flashback, kind of. Like a little ode to your childhood.
Do you guys have favorite coming of age movies yourselves?
GB: [laughing]I really like "Super 8."
NR: "Stand By Me" is probably, like, the quintessential coming-of-age film. Really good.
MA: Does "E.T." count?
NR: Yeah, "E.T." is coming-of-age. Any film is a coming-of-age film in a way, because it’s always about the change in characters from point A to point B. So, like, you know, "Die Hard" is a coming of age film.
GB: Some people compared us to, like, "The Expendables."
NR: I’m fine with that.
You think "Kings of Summer" is comparable to "The Expendables"?
GB: "Expendables 2," not the first one.
NR: No, come on, the second one sucked, the first one was, like, the best. That one's so good.
GB: You thought the first one was good?
NR: Yeah, dude. Okay, I thought it was horrendously great. Like, you could just- The graphics, like, the special effects were terrible, and it’s -
GB: Dude, Jet Li got beat up, that shit would never happen in real life. He was in the movie for, like, five seconds and got beat up.
[they talk over each other, then realize they're still doing an interview. Long pause]
GB: Ask a question, ask a question.
No, it’s fine. Debate away. Alright, do you guys think you have the skills to actually build the house that you built in the movie?
MA: Hell no.
Do you think you could build any liveable structure?
NR: Define liveable.
MA: I could, uh, build something worse than Joe’s birdhouse in the beginning of the movie.
NR: You said worse? That’s hard to do. Like, really hard. If given the right materials, I think I could build a livable structure. Plywood, some 2x4s, a hammer, and some nails and then build a lean-to.
You guys all sound like you’re bros now. With the festivals done and the DVD out, do you guys still keep in touch and see each other?
NR: You guys never hit me up. You never call! You never call.
MA: I’m in your soul, bro. I’m in your mind, I’m in your heart, I’m in your soul. You remember me, it’s okay.
Where do you keep the DVD? Do you watch it?
NR: I watch that s**t on a loop, on a screen above my bed.
Using the formula of your first pet and the street you grew up on, what would your porn name be?
NR: Ah, mine’s very exotic: Scout Laurent.
GB: Is this the first pet, like, in the household or the first one that you actually understand what it is?
Whichever one you loved more.
GB: Boo Peru.
MA: Mine is Nena McKendry.