The Way, Way Back is a movie I was reading about since its release. I heard good things about it, and I thought the premise sounded like something I’d like. I was a big fan of coming of age films at the time, but I just never got around to seeing this one, until now.
The Way, Way Back is about a teenager named Duncan, played by LiamJames. He is dragged by his mother (Toni Collette) to her boyfriend Trent’s (Steve Carell) beach house. They plan on spending the summer there, but Duncan wishes to have nothing to do with any of the vacationers who spend their time there like it’s an endless party. The situation is worsened by Trent’s constant belittling of Duncan.
Duncan finds freedom in visiting a laid back water park manager, Owen. Owen is played by Sam Rockwell, and he takes Duncan on as a new employee at the park. Owen’s constant sarcasm and proddingsencourage Duncan to become a more confident person, but Duncan’s double life threatens to come between him and his mom.
This film is written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and makes for a promising directorial debut for the pair. The story isn’t particularly original, but the way it is handled and the emotional maturity make it feel fresh. All of the characters’ interactions feel unique, and they have very individual personalities.
It could have been dull or too emotionally heavy, but all of this is balanced out by its humour. Owen provides a wonderful break from the serious parts with his immaturity and openness, and Sam Rockwell plays him perfectly. From his quick wit with the quips to his deadpan sarcasism, Rockwell gives a memorable performance. Carell also stands out. His delivery of savage put downs or two faced attitude balance a compelling and detestable father figure.
The story moves along at a good pace. It takes its time establishing the characters and settings but never hangs on something for too long. It balances the storylines of Duncan’s home life, his work life, and Owen’s growth as a person with ease. By the end of the film it left me wanting to know more about these characters and what their futures held which a testament to the depth of the world.
My Favourites from the film: The whole cast was exceptional, but Carell just stole all of his scenes. The characters felt real and had their own stories. The setting was pleasing to see and made for an interesting world.
My Less enjoyed parts: Duncan is quiet and awkward which I thought was done well and in a relatable way, but I also found some of his long pauses awkward and uncomfortable to watch. Some parts the camera was of a noticeably lower quality. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash play small parts as coworkers at the park, and sometimes it felt like they may have puffed up their roles more than wasneeded.
My Recommendation: I’d say check it out. The story is great, and the laughs are rich. It’s an indy film found by Fox Searchlight Pictures, so it’s more down to earth than your studio films. If you like it, you may want to check out some other films they found: Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Whip It, and Napoleon Dynamite are some of my favourites.