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The Way, Way Back
July 16, 2013

The Way, Way Back poster

Caught a preview of The Way, Way Back last night. It’s a charming coming-of-age comedy about Duncan (Liam James) and the summer he spends at the beach. He and his mother Pam (Toni Collette) are staying with Trent (Steve Carell), her new boyfriend, and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). They’re also hanging out with the drunk next-door neighbor (Allison Janney), her daughter (AnnaSophia Robb), and couple Joan (Amanda Peet) and Kip (Rob Corddry). It’s not until Duncan discovers the local Water Wizz water park and its manager (Sam Rockwell) that he finds a place to belong.

Zoe Levin, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Liam James in The Way, Way Back

Zoe Levin, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Liam James in The Way, Way Back

The movie was written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, which is what makes it exceptional. They also have small roles as park employees, although Rash is nearly unrecognizable. The two previously co-wrote The Descendants, another summerish family relationship film. You can watch them joking around with several of Rash’s fellow Community cast members in this video.

Of course Trent is a jerk, and of course Duncan feels left out when his mom wants to spend time with her boyfriend instead of him. There are no fantasy elements here — no life-changing romance, no magical resolution of the hurts — just real, watchable performances. Sam Rockwell, in particular, lights up the screen when he’s on it, but I appreciated the way his character wasn’t presented as some kind of ideal figure. It’s clear how his life and charm, while attractive to a lonely 14-year-old, is also masking his own struggles.

Liam James and AnnaSophia Robb in The Way, Way Back

Liam James and AnnaSophia Robb in The Way, Way Back

This is a different kind of summer escape, a nice change from the exaggerated over-the-top blockbuster. Here’s the trailer:

One Response  
Jim Perreault writes:  

I ended up watching this the other night, and I have very mixed feelings about the movie. It certainly is a very well done film. But I found it so dark that it was not an easy film to watch.

I did greatly enjoy all the scenes at Water Wizz ; the rest of the film, not so much.

> There are no fantasy elements here — no life-changing romance, no magical resolution of the hurts

While there is no magic resolution, I did find the romance in the film very fantastical. And his life at Water Whizz contained elements of fantasy as well.

Cheers,

Jim

 
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