Written by Matt Mungle
Title: The Way, Way Back
In a season filled with capes, explosions, aliens, and sequel after sequel, it is refreshing to have a film come along that is unique. The Way, Way Back is the perfect respite for those looking for heartwarming characters, recognizable memories, and a story line that is easy going yet emotional. Written by the award winning duo of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (they also penned The Descendants), this movie needs to be seen by anyone who gravitates toward coming of age tales; for the young and old.
The story focuses on 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James). He is heading on a summer vacation to a lake front community with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). Duncan is a reserved kid who is not too thrilled about a summer surrounded by new people. Trent is somewhat overbearing, and from the start, you can tell that he and Duncan have zero compatibility. It is only when Duncan is befriended by the owner of the local water park (Sam Rockwell) that he finally starts to come out of his shell.
This movie has much to offer and it is hard to find anything wrong with it. Liam James may be a new face to screens but he will immediately capture your attention, and you feel for his character right off. The rest of the cast fold right into the mix and there is no weak link.
The most surprising role is that of Trent. We are so used to loving Carell, and he usually has something endearing about his roles. At any minute, you expect Trent to do or say the right thing. Steve truly embraces this new direction and causes you to despise his character.
Rockwell delivers a memorable, funny, and believable character. His wit and loveable charm is spot on. He has a soft spot for Duncan and reaches out to him. Not in a coddling way but sort of like an older brother who is a big kid at heart. He treats Duncan like family and that is way more than he is getting at home. It is the moments spent at the water-park that make this film a fantastic summer flick.
The Way, Way Back is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material. This is an adult film simply because of the smart dialogue, heavy themes, and lackadaisical movement. Even though it is PG-13 many under 18 will find its lack of action and novel like characters a tad slow.
Those who love strongly written scripts and a film that is emotional yet never bogs down delightful; this is your must see. I give it 4.5 out of 5 bike rides. You will laugh a lot, tear up a few times, and walk out of the movie feeling good about life.