It is less a movie than a checklist of indiecinema clichés. Youth on a journey of self-discovery? Got it. Dead mom? Uh-huh. Wounded and entitled when it’s trying to be soulful, plotless, laden with indie rock and entirely overhyped at Sundance? Checkarooney.Three friends — one bland, one irritating and one aggressively and movie-ishly weird without being interesting — run away from their families and live in the woods one summer. Since their folks immediately understand what happened (unless burglars broke in to kidnap the kids and steal the canned goods), there aren’t a whole lot of stakes on either side.
Joe, whose mother has died, is supposed to be a sort of Charlie Brown character — but as played by Nick Robinson, he’s arrogant, smug and needlessly mean to his father who is a bit of a hardass but has also lost his wife, Joe’s mom.
Joe’s pal Patrick needs to get away from the suffocating niceness of his parents, so the two boys steal some junk and use it to build a cabin in the woods.
Meanwhile, a random weird kid whom neither of them knows, tags along for no reason, uttering freaky non sequiturs that the writer thinks are hilarious.
About the fifth or sixth time the movie stops for a musical montage, you may get the idea that not a whole lot is going to happen except for the friends running sprints, drinking beer and banging on pipes. I was left to wonder why, even after Joe has been living in the woods for a month, his hair always looks like it’s been professionally molded by a stylist within the previous 10 minutes.
Thanks to a dispute over a girl, Joe becomes even more of a jerk as the movie goes on, making it even harder to take an interest in this nonstory, and Patrick remains steadfastly dull. In the closing minutes, the movie lunges for some actual life-and-death drama, but to no great effect. If “being an ex-bored teen” is all the material you’ve got with which to make a first film, maybe wait until something more interesting happens.