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Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta’s feature debut is a warm and decidedly funny coming-of-age comedy that deserves its acclaim as one of this year’s Sundance breakout hits.

The film tells the tale of Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso), two teenaged best friends who are fed up with their lives at home. Joe’s father is a depressive widower and Patrick’s mother and father are overbearing in their attempts to be both parents and friends.

So the two decide to take off for the summer and build their own house in a clearing in the woods, living by themselves with no one to tell them what to do, and with oddball pal Biaggio (Moises Arias) tagging along for the experience. 

The insight and understanding of the young boys’ predicaments gives the film a heartfelt sincerity that is immediately touching, their longing for independence and adulthood an instantly recognisable experience from childhood. 

It is also exceptionally funny, with Arias a scene-stealing wonder as the eccentric and unpredictable Biaggio and Nick Offerman, as Joe’s father Frank, bringing a sarcastic bite through his unrelenting intolerance of stupidity. “You’re right, it is a classic kidnapping – they took our children and the canned goods and pasta!” he growls at one point. 

With great performances across the board and stunning cinematography that captures the beauty of an outdoors that enraptures the boys, it is a sterling debut.

Good for: Enjoying one of the films of the year.

Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias | 15 | 95mins | Out Aug 23 


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