The Way Way Back
Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Writer: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Cast: Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander, Zoe Levin, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Duncan’s (Liam James) mother Pam (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) are taking Duncan and Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) to Trent’s beach house for the summer. Duncan is less than overjoyed. He doesn’t get along with Trent at all, his mother spends all her time with Trent though. Steph ignores him and while the neighbor’s daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) is friendly, she’s also older and has her own problems. And then Duncan meets Owen (Sam Rockwell), the cool if slightly immature manager of the local water park and somehow Duncan and Owen become friends.
The Way Way Back was very sweet for the most part, had a really nice cast and a wonderful sense of humor. Some things I didn’t like that much, but generally I really enjoyed it.
Let’s get my hesitations out of the way first: there was the fact that Duncan gets introduced to sexual objectification and covertly staring at girls’ butts at the water slide which is somehow part of his coming of age. That wasn’t really necessary, I thought, especially since his sexual coming of age is a topic covered by his relationship with Sue anyway.
I also wasn’t particularly happy that it took Duncan screaming at Pam and an intervention from Owen for her to realize Trent’s suckiness (she’s a grown woman, for crying out loud, she should make her decisions on her own). And Owen’s relationship with Caitlin (Maya Rudolph) was right there at the edge of “why does she put up with him” and only saved by the fact that Caitlin is pretty vocal about it and lets Owen know that he has to grow up some time, too.
But other than that, I really did like the film a lot. Which is mostly to do with Sam Rockwell (though less to do with the fact that he wears a white tank top a lot than you might think) and his wonderful performance. He’s funny, sweet and where another actor in the role would have probably made his relationship with Duncan really creepy, here it seems to grow rather organically.
But there’s also the rest of the cast (Allison Janney! Toni Collette! Maya Rudolph!), the wonderful sense of humor and the touching story and characters that make for a well-rounded, entertaining and really fun film.
Summarizing: I liked it.