The Way, Way Back DVD review 5/5 stars

Product Details5 Stars

It is not very often that I watch a movie and then think I need to immediately watch it again.  There have been only other two times a film has blown me away enough to spur that action, one was Hot Fuzz, and the other was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  The night I watched The Way, Way Back however, I did just that.  I enjoyed this movie so much that I had to watch it again.  No passing go, no $200, I let the credits wrap and put it back on again.

From directors and Academy Award winning writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash comes The Way Way Back.  You may know Faxon from the Broken Lizard films Club Dread, Beerfest, Slammin’ Salmon and Babymakers; and Jim Rash as Dean Pelton on TV’s Community, but they’re also two of the writers from 2011’s The Descendants that won them the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.  Not too shabby.  It also comes from the studio that gave us Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, two films I’ve yet to get around to seeing.  It took me fifteen years to see Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and more for The Usual Suspects so being seven or eight years behind isn’t that bad for me.  I just checked, it was twenty-one years for me to catch up on Glengarry Glen Ross….

Fourteen year-old Duncan (Liam James) goes on vacation with his mother (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Arriving at Trent’s beach house, Duncan all alone and has a hard time fitting in, as Steph meets back up with her friends from previous summers, including Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), the cute girl next door who seems to be at odds with her mother (Allison Janney) like Duncan is with his family. She could possibly be someone Duncan would hang out with, unfortunately Duncan is shy and socially awkward so he finds it easier to just ride his bike around town all day and avoid everyone; which does peak Susanna’s curiosity.   One day at lunch Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of the local water park, Water Wizz. Duncan follows Owen to work, which peak’s his curiosity with the boy as well. Giving him a job for the Summer, Owen quickly helps Duncan break out of his shell, and he secretly begins to enjoy himself and the summer, despite the drama that is going on at home between his mother, Trent and his friend Joan (Amanda Peet). Eventually he does start to hang out with Susanna, who he soon learns is nothing like her superficial friends, including Trent’s daughter Steph. Still belittled by Trent, finally Duncan can take it no more and he stands up for himself and his mother, publicly at a neighbourhood party and draws attention to Trent’s infidelity. Suddenly his summer is coming to an early end.

I loved the balance this movie struck between the comedy and the drama. When he was home, the film focused on the drama of the relationships Duncan had with his mother and Trent and their “grown up” friends; but when he was at work, the humour and charm of The Way Way Back shone through incredibly. Sam Rockwell had brilliant chemistry with everyone, especially Liam James.  Steve Carell plays his role very seriously, he is really a bit of a jerk and gets very few laughs this time out; which is marvellous for a mainly comic actor to be able to do.  Toni Collette was great and Allison Janney was hilarious, but really Sam Rockwell stole the show, his scenes were magic.  Writers/Directors Rash and Faxon also add themselves to the cast in smaller roles as water park employees. I usually don’t like it when the writers of comedies put themselves in their own films, sometimes it works, but more often then not, it fails.  They seem to try and give themselves all the best lines, or go over the top with the humour for their own characters.  I had no objections however to Rash and Faxon’s characters.

There are some movies that are so simple that it’s hard to convey just how good they really are. The Way Way Back is one of those movies, which is in part why I have been working on this review for more than a month.  It is quite simply a coming-of-age story.  There are no big action scenes or special effects, just very good writing with very good actors, who bring this realistic story to life.  If you’re looking for a good movie, I can’t recommend The Way Way Back enough.


Posted on 13-12-10, in 5 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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