Film Review : The Way Way Back (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%

Directed By – Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Starring – Liam James, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, and Maya Rudolph

Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Oh man did the tagline nail this movie. I think most of us have been in the situation that Liam James’s character Duncan has been in. He’s 14, shy, doesn’t really know how he fits into the world and is looking for some kind of connection with anything. I know I have. I remember a vacation to Orlando, Florida when I was 14. We stayed at Universal and while my parents tried everything they could to cheer me up and get me to have fun, I was mostly running off by myself and getting lost in the park. In the film, Duncan retreats to a waterpark and tries to find his connections. My situation was a little different of course. I’m not an only child. My parents aren’t divorced. My Mom’s boyfriend isn’t a dick, but I felt that isolation that he felt in the film. It’s ultimately what made me enjoy the film. That, and the cast.

I think this is the most Sam Rockwell-ish that Sam Rockwell has ever been asked to become in a film. He is the epitome of charm and wit. It was almost to the point where his character became unreal because of how much charisma oozed out of him. He was hilarious to watch and as always, knew when to hit the emotions in just the right fashion. Steve Carell plays a different role in which he is like how I said above, just a dick. Comic relief in the form of the films writers and directors, Faxon and Rash, was also an enjoyable touch but they didn’t receive enough screen time to be honest. In fact, I would have wished for a longer film just so I could absorb all the great talent in this film.

It’s a fun movie. It’s not a game changer. I don’t know how films in the 80s or 90s that dealt with similar themes got to their cult status but I can see this being a great summer film in the upcoming years. It’s the dead of winter, snow on the ground, and all I want to do is go up to Martha’s Vineyard and have a summer. I think that feeling trumps over the large amount of sentimentality that occurred during the last ten minutes or the fact that this is basically a run of the mill coming of age story that we’ve seen a million times. The general entertainment from the cast and the overall vibe of the film are what I enjoyed most. Great summer film. Great film for teenagers. Rash and Faxon aren’t going to be winning another Oscar for this (The Descendants) but it’s a great debut for the first time directors/original screenwriters.


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