The Way Way Back
Over the course of his summer break, a teenager comes into his own thanks in part to the friendship he strikes up with one of the park's managers.
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★★★★★ review by Matthew Rogers on Letterboxd
This is undoubtedly my favourite film of 2013. The coming of age story about a socially awkward teen (Liam James) who has been forced to spend summer at the beach with his mother (Toni Collette) and her new 'douchey' boyfriend (Steve Carell). This set up maybe seem like another cliche cinema experience however the performances and subtlety with which this film has been crafted and created, deliver one of the most genuine and enjoyable films of the year.
From this point on I will unconditionally watch anything created by or starring Jim Rash. A special mention has to be awarded to Sam Rockwell who absolutely steals this film playing a loveable, kind and larger than life water park owner.
If you have not seen this film yet then stop what you are doing, find a way to get your hands on a copy and watch it!
★★★½ review by Evan on Letterboxd
I really enjoyed it. Sam Rockwell was awesome. All in all The Way, Way Back is a solid coming of age drama/comedy.
Although, I did have one problem with the movie. It moved way too fast. Not nearly enough time is focussed on the relationships between Duncan and Owen, as well as Duncan and Susanna. They just weren't developed as much as they should have been. Don't get me wrong Duncan & Owen's friendship was displayed, I just thought there could have been more to it. By the end I was left wanting a lot more and slightly underwhelmed. Still I was very much able to relate myself to Duncan when I was his age. More development could have made this movie great.
★★★½ review by ellie on Letterboxd
i'm a 3 but sam rockwell believes in me and thats all i need
★★★★ review by Calib McBolts on Letterboxd
I love a good coming of age film and to find a truly unique, solid indie comedy is rare. Little Miss Sunshine was one of the best examples of this, one of my all time favorites easily. The Descendants was also a huge surprise to me, turned out it was a fantastic film written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash who also penned The Way Way Back and knocked another one out of the park. This film is funny, sweet, quirky, brilliantly acted and just simply outrageous fun. The characters all have their own style, and they are relentlessly watchable.
Faxon and Rash direct, write, produce and star in this movie: These two guys are just incredibly talented. They have a total handle on comedy and drama and emotions and stories about life and growing up. The story and direction is quirky without being weird or going too far in the art house frame of mind. I didn't realize how well this film actually did against its modest budget and I would hope and pray that the dynamic writing and directing duo will continue to create brilliant films.
★★★★ review by Cinemonster on Letterboxd
Disclosure: This is my favorite film of 2013.
2013 felt like a year from the 80's with all of the coming-of-age(COA) films that hit the cinema. Mud, Kings of Summer, The Spectacular Now each had moments that made them worth mentioning (Especially Mud which was stellar), but my favorite of the bunch, was The Way, Way Back.
A story of a boy (Duncan played by Liam James) struggling to find himself and stability, the film overcomes a few pacing hiccups and clunky lines with solid performances, some great characters and fantastic set pieces.
Duncan and his mother (Toni Collette) have been brought to a beach town for the summer by her boyfriend. (Steve Carell) Here, Duncan finds new depths of misery as his already non-existent self-confidence is further pounded by Carell and his daughter. The poor little bastard seems to have no direction that can result in a reprieve from his misery, until a ride into town on a girls bike and a Pac-Man game brings the manager of a local water park (Sam Rockwell) into his life.
Rockwell, while a tad much at times, has never been more charming as the conduit to self respect and confidence for Duncan. Steve Carell, representing what has come to be the men in his life, has never been a more of a prig. While both men are flawed as father figures, Rockwell's character has an inherent decency that is implied as being absent in the men that Duncan has thus far come in contact with through his mum.
While the film is clearly set in present day, the setting, costume, dialogue and production design don't betray any specific time period. Even most current technology is absent. In fact, it smacks with a tad of an 80's flavor and clearly has a tad bit of nostalgia for that time.
The film is certainly not without flaws or an occasional cliche, but it carries a charm and warmth that many of its ilk do not. I think as we move on from the surge of COA films that we are clearly in, that The Way, Way Back, because of it's timeless look and feel, will endure and find a greater audience. It deserves it.
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