There’s only a few films a year that you go into, thinking they are going to be completely ordinary and end up surprising the heck out of you. The Way Way Back is one of those films and it certainly stands out among this summer’s blockbusters, making it one of the best films of the year.
Directors and writer Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (Oscar-winning screenwriters of The Descendants) have created a funny, bittersweet and wonderful coming of age tale about a boy and his summer vacation at the beach.
Fourteen-year-old Duncan (newcomer Liam James) is spending the summer with his mother Pam (Toni Colette), her arrogant boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) at their beach house. Duncan is clearly not a fan of Trent’s, especially after Trent calls Duncan a “3 out of 10.” Who does that?
When they arrive at the beach house, they are greeted by Trent’s wild neighbor, Betty (Allison Janey) and her daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb). While Pam and Trent are spending their nights drinking wine with friends Kip (Rob Corddry) and Joan (Amanda Peet) and going boating the day, Duncan has a hard time fitting in.
While wandering around, Duncan finds a water park nearby and the manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) immediately befriends him and convinces him to take a job at the park. Their relationship is the catalyst for Duncan coming out of his shell and finding his place in the world.
Beautifully filmed in Massachusetts for a budget of $4.6 million, The Way, Way Back sets standards for indie films to come. It’s hilarious, heartfelt and has the perfect blend of comedy and drama. Newcomer Liam James plays the shy, awkward protagonist perfectly and his and Rockwell’s chemistry is just lovely to watch.
Sam Rockwell, who has never been nominated for an Oscar I might add, steals every scene he’s in. He’s the heart of the film and the father figure young Duncan so desperately needs. Rockwell’s Owen is smart, caring and has a big heart that he tries to hide.
The Way, Way Back is an enchanting and surprising summer hit that will leave you laughing and crying. You don’t want to miss it.
The Way, Way Back receives 4.5/5 Stars.