The Way Way BackCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Summertime coming-of-age comedies are by now a cinematic staple, but in The Way Way Back Academy Award-winning screenwriters Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (The Descendants) have penned something truly unforgettable. Duncan (Liam James, The Killing), a cripplingly shy fourteen-year-old boy, is thrown headfirst into a painfully awkward vacation with his mother Pam (Toni Collette, In Her Shoes) and her boyfriend’s friends and family. The summer begins to look up when Duncan finds an unlikely ally in the roguish Owen (Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths), the manager of Water Whizz water park. Mutual growth and heartwarming hilarity ensue in this big-hearted comedy.
The film stars a huge and impressive cast, with several revered comedians such as Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) and Robb Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) fulfilling supporting roles. There is not one unremarkable performance among the cast, though of course several players stand out.
Steve Carrell (Crazy, Stupid Love) co-stars as Trent, Pam’s alpha-male boyfriend, who delights in shrewdly bullying the fragile Duncan. It’s refreshing to see Carrell step back from his trademark “likeable fool” roles – he is barely recognisable in this obnoxious character and really comes into his own. Unsurprisingly, Allison Janney (Juno) is side-splittingly apt as Trent’s tenacious, liquor loving neighbour. Meanwhile, Liam James impresses in his first starring role. His performance is appropriately gawky and he carries himself in a perfect, awkward manner, that subtly changes as his character grows. However, it is Rockwell that steals the screen with a rolling series of sharp one-liners and an almost overpowering charisma. Rockwell’s frivolous character leads a messy life and is not the most appropriate role model, but the intensely affectionate chemistry between the two leads brings an unexpected credibility to Owen. Sam Rockwell is, quite simply, enchanting.
Though reminiscent of popular indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and Adventureland, The Way Way Back is a story in its own right. The movie is unique in its tale and in its big, memorable characters, and speaks with its own distinct voice. This uproarious, uplifting gem about growing up will resonate with audiences young and old. After all, as the poster reads: “We’ve all been there.”
The Way Way Back is released nationwide on 28th August 2013.
Watch the trailer for The Way Way Back here: