The Way Way Back (12)
Running time: 103 min
Directed by: Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell
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.
Duncan (Liam James) and his mum Pam (Toni Collette) are travelling with Pam’s boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) to Trent’s holiday home by the sea for some quality ‘family’ time.
Duncan however is feeling very depressed and moody as he wants to spend the summer with his Dad as his parents are divorced. If this wasn’t bad enough, Trent, his mum’s new boyfriend, doesn’t really see any potential in Duncan and the two clearly don’t see eye to eye.
It’s during this summer vacation that Duncan stumbles upon The Water Whizz park and Owen (Sam Rockwell), the laziest and easiest going person Duncan has ever met. The two strike up a friendship and Duncan slowly starts to believe that there is more to life than his sadness. But spending the summer with his family won’t be easy but it will certainly one that he won’t forget.
The Way Way Back is part comedy, part coming of age drama with stellar and standout performances from Liam James in the lead role as Duncan. Indeed the gradual transformation he makes on screen is superb, but it’s also down to the performance of Sam Rockwell.
Though Steven Carell is a main character, it’s great to see him in a purely dramatic role and for Sam Rockwell to be the comedy element of the film. Without doubt, Rockwell steals every scene, from his simple wisecracks and witty one-liners, to the more tender and emotional scenes in the movie. Oh, and he dances too!
Director/Write Jim Nash has used his own personal experiences as an influence on the story, and you can easily tell that the script has some wonderful witticisms and characters that the audience can clearly identify with; these include the noisy and obtrusive holiday neighbours, the very late nights with parents drinking til dawn and, in particular, the outsiders who try their hardest to blend in but just seem all the more distant.
The Way Way Back has some very funny moments, but also some very touching and emotional moments and thanks to a fairly even run time, it’s a holiday film that thankfully doesn’t over stay its welcome. A great and funny film that will remind you of those family holidays of yesteryear.