The following is a review for The Way Way Back (2013).
Duncan, a shy 14 year old, is having trouble in life. Technically, he doesn't have much of a life. He spends much of his time on his own. The Way Way Back tells the story of his summer vacation with his family as he tries to find his way in life.
Duncan has a hard time adjusting to life with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). From the very first scene, we understand Duncan's pain as Trent criticizes Duncan for not having any friends. He even goes so far as to label Duncan a "3" on a scale of 1-10 which makes him even more upset.
Feeling miserable, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, a manager at the local water park. Owen, played brilliantly by Sam Rockwell, takes Duncan under his wing and gives him a job at the park. That's where all the fun begins.
At first glance, The Way Way Back reminded me a lot of another film I liked, Adventureland. This film deals more with the younger leads and the family dynamic. Written and Directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Oscar winning screenwriters of The Descendents), it highlights the difficulties of a dealing with separated parents and teenage hardships. At it's core, it's still a very funny, heartfelt coming of age story.
The film is filled with real, funny performances by Allison Janey as the kooky next door neighbor, AnnaSophia Robb, as her cute daughter, and of course, Liam James as Duncan. The standout for me was definitely Sam Rockwell whose perfect for the role. He's hilarious, charismatic and compassionate. It's definitely one of my favorite performances this year.
The Way Way Back is a really funny and sincere coming of age story. It's been one of the highlights this summer. Do yourself a favor and check it out.