Writer: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (Screenplay)
Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James
Plot: 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.
Tagline – Everybody has a summer that changes their life.
Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: The Way Way Back starts as Duncan (James) is joining his mother Pam (Collette), her new boyfriend Trent (Carell) and his daughter for a summer vacation along a popular location for family summer vacation. Trent doesn’t want to be here, he doesn’t fit in with the crowd looking for time on the beach and becomes friends with the girl in the house next door Susanna (Robb).
With Duncan continuing to struggle to fit in this summer vacation, he meets Owen (Rockwell) the manager of a water park called the Water Wizz. Duncan learns more about his own life when he is around Owen, giving him an escape, he has never experienced before.
Thoughts on The Way Way Back
Characters – Duncan is a child of divorce, he lives with his mother and getting used to her new boyfriend and his family, he doesn’t fit in the crowds they give him, he finds social interaction awkward at times too, when he meets Owen, he gets to come out of his shell for the first time in years as he gets caught in the confliction that his parental relationship causes him. Owen is the manager of the water park, he has a laid back attitude that has seen him create the image of a slacker, but he offers Duncan the life advice he so badly desires to help him through the difficult stage he will be facing, while learning to grow up himself. Pam is the mother of Duncan, she is trying to keep her life together for him and with Trent, she is hoping to start something new, Trent is the boyfriend of Pam’s who isn’t as friendly towards Duncan as he could be, always trying to put him down.
Performances – Liam James does take the leading role in this star studded cast, he is great showing how awkward teenager through the film, Sam Rockwell is wonderful to watch as always, while the parental figures of Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney are great through the film too.
Story – The story here follows a teenager forced into a summer vacation where he never fits in, only to find somewhere he finally fits in and can look to move on with his life. This story is a brilliant coming-of-age tale, showing us all that you can find your place in the world, from a place you might never imagine. It does show how the children of divorce will always face the uncertainty around how they believe their parents are feeling about them, with the parents hiding certain truths they believe would destroy the child’s mindset. The weakness in the story comes from not truly knowing how long the events of the film take place, with one scene making it seem like it is a month, while others could show it being around a week.
Comedy – The comedy in the film comes from see how certain arguments get blown out of the water and seeing how they Owen reacts to a lot during the film.
Settings – The film does use the settings to show us how the families require the time in the summer homes as a blow off, with the water park being Duncan’s safe place during this.
Scene of the Movie – Slide challenge.
Final Thoughts – This is a wonderful coming of age story that can hit hard with the emotions as well as the reality of life, balancing the two well, with brilliant performances throughout the film.
Overall: Brilliant Coming of Age Film.