The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way Back

(2013)

Everybody has a summer that changes their life.

Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell star in this coming-of-age comedy, written and directed by two of the Oscar-winning screenwriters of The Descendants. During a summer vacation in a Northeast beach town, introverted teen Duncan (Liam James) strikes up an unlikely friendship with the manager of Water Wizz water park (Rockwell). Meanwhile Duncan’s mother (Collette) alienates her son through her determined efforts to make things work with her carousing boyfriend (Carell), whose hollow attempts to build a family are immediately transparent to Duncan.

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Flicks Review

A contender for feel-good comedy of the year, The Way, Way Back treads a similar path to Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s other Oscar-winning film, The Descendants, with memorable characters, heartfelt themes and a great cast. This isn’t quite as nuanced or complex as the George Clooney drama, sticking to a crowd-pleasing formula, broad humour and familiar coming-of-age sentiment. And although you can fairly predict the girl-next-door romance and protagonists’ character arc from gloomily awkward to cheerily confident, it’s not hard to warm to the film when you spend a good portion of it laughing out loud.... More

Much of that has to do with all the fun that comes with its tacky, all-American water park setting (think fat kids getting stuck in the tube, giant hotdog figurines and staff members who are practically part of the furniture). And a lot of laughs come from Sam Rockwell, who gets the majority of the film’s great one-liners as Duncan’s wise-cracking mentor figure, a guy oozing with “sexual charisma” (his words). The rest of the cast deserve praise too: Liam James as the nerdy Duncan, Toni Collette as his submissive mum, Steve Carrell as her passive-aggressive boyfriend, Allison Janney as the catch-phrasing lush, plus Bridesmaids’ Maya Rudolph, Anna Sophia Robb, Amanda Peet and Rob Corddry in supporting roles.

The biggest criticism is that The Way, Way Back is not quite as offbeat as it could be, its gush factor a tad high, and not just because of the hydro-slides. The central theme of standing up for oneself is made abundantly clear, and some of the shallow teens are a little one-dimensional, not nearly as cutting as The Descendants’ angsty teens. But this is a pretty safe bet for a fun time no matter your age – a bit like a day at a water park, really.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 3 ratings, 4 reviews
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BY iChild grader

Sam Rockwell is awesome at the best of times but this is such an incredible movie. Well cast, funny, sad. All round serious enjoyment.


BY FletchNZ wannabe

If you've ever seen the movie Meatballs from 1979 with Bill Murray you'll recognize that this has a similar plotline (although without the hijinks). Sam Rockwell (as "Owen") plays the fast-talking Murray-type character who works at a water-park, who takes a shy adolescent boy under his wing. I did enjoy the movie; it held my interest all the way through although I found the ending slightly unsatisfying. The denouement at the waterpark was expected although there seems little reasoning behind... More the success of the main character (you'll understand when you see it).Hide


BY wobbit superstar

Nice Summer boy grows up type movie..


BY Weds_Loafers superstar

A delightful coming-of-age tale about a 14-year-old boy going on holiday with his divorced mother and her obnoxious new boyfriend (Steve Carrell plays this part pretty well!). A genuinely pleasing and relaxing 100 minutes or so, and we all enjoyed it. Gentle humour throughout helps, though the movie does labour a bit at the beginning. Average 3.7 stars from 5 of us.


The Press Reviews

85% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Labors under the delusion that all filmmakers need to engineer a crowd-pleaser are a collection of tried-and-true conventions and a healthy dose of nostalgia. Full Review

  • When the credits roll, one is left thinking less of the fate of the characters than of the rollcall of Sundance offerings this film resembles. Full Review

  • Despite the familiarity of this setup, Way Back is a charmer. Full Review

  • Has the charm of timelessness but also more than a touch of triteness. Full Review

  • Once again, the oppressed American teen-ager lopes and shuffles to center stage, there to display his woes. Full Review

  • Aside from Carell's limited turn at doing nasty, it all feels terribly familiar, in a half-baked, Little Miss Sunshine-lite sort of way. Full Review

  • Faxon and Rash cut Duncan a clear, broad path to growth and perspective, but the audience can see where it's going long before it gets there. Full Review

  • The young hero of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s summertime dramedy resembles nothing so much as a mollusk without a shell. Full Review

The Talk
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