Film Review: “The Way Way Back”
Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s directorial debut “The Way Way Back” is a charming, if routine, coming of age story set to the sunny backdrop of Cape Cod in the summer.
The story is centered around 14 year-old Duncan (played by Liam James) as he’s dragged along by his mother (Tony Collette) to Cape Cod to spend the summer with her alpha-male boyfriend (Steve Carell) and his snobbish daughter.
Duncan, who is the definition of the awkward 14 year-old male, finds companionship in the whimsically clever Owen (Sam Rockwell), who hires the boy to work for a dysfunctional water park.
No story is complete without the hero falling in love, and this movie is no exception as Duncan finds his first love with the girl next door, Susanna. (AnnaSophia Robb).
Through youthful adventures, family strife, and the ever witty guidance of Owen, Duncan has the summer of his life.
“The Way Way Back” isn’t simply a pretty summer movie to make us laugh and feel good about ourselves. When you watch the film, you’ll notice there are some serious themes at play.
Faxon and Rash show us a realistic, and sometimes startling, glance into the modern family dynamic. Every character is three-dimensional.
You might find yourself feeling sorry for Steve Carell’s Trent at times, and you might notice that the alcoholic neighbor, Pam, is by far one of the most mature adults in the entire movie.
This film’s true stroke of genius is in its ability to tell the entire story from Duncan’s point of view, which will make you sympathize so strongly with the character that you might end up leaving the cinema feeling five years younger.
“The Way Way Back” shows us nothing new, but that doesn’t mean that this movie is boring or repetitious.
On the contrary, this movie delivers a timeless, if over-told, coming of age story, made special by a top-notch cast and a perfectly tuned script.
Sam Rockwell shines in particular, but performances by Liam James and Tony Collette shouldn’t be overlooked either.
This is a movie that all ages can enjoy, and will enjoy for years to come. You can’t go wrong with watching “The Way Way Back.”
Leo Schnepf gives this film a 3.5 out of 5.