The Way Way Back
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Who was in that one again? Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Liam James
I can't remember the plot. Fourteen-year-old Duncan (James) is forced to go to his mother's (Collette) jerk boyfriend's (Carell) summer home on the coast with both of them and the boyfriend's snobbish teenage daughter. While there, he's miserable until he finds a local waterpark and meets the manager (Rockwell), a man-child who becomes Duncan's friend and father figure, oddly enough. Both of them also have roles in the movie - and it's fun to watch Rash as Lewis, a worker at the waterpark wearing "Jeffrey Dahmer glasses."
The review: This movie is fantastic. It was written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who also wrote The Descendants with George Clooney. Faxon was the lead in "Ben and Kate" two years ago and Rash is the cross-dressing, Jeff-Winger-loving Dean on "Community," and they are great writers. I enjoyed The Descendants, but The Way Way Back was way, way better, in my opinion.
While this could be pigeonholed as a "coming of age teen movie," it avoids all the cliches and keeps its theme unique. When the boy goes to a party thrown by the waterpark manager, you think that the cops are going to come and the mother is going to forbid the boy from ever seeing the manager again. When there's a teenage girl who lives next door, you assume she's part of the shallow teen crowd that inhabits the beach and has to be convinced that the boy is a cool guy. But those things don't happen. It keeps the movie fresh and unique.
The most enjoyable performances are from Carell and Rockwell, because they are playing against type. Usually Carell is the lovable loser and Rockwell is the smug jerk, but the roles are reversed here. Carell is awesome as the jerk and my favorite performance is from Rockwell, who has a great sense of humor and timing. James is super awkward and slow to respond, which is perfect for his role.
I was very into this movie, and the ending made me cheer, because it did everything right.
MVP: It's gotta be Rockwell, whom I've always liked, even if he's always taken unlikeable roles. It was fun to root for him, for once.
Blurb Musing Rating (out of five): Five station wagons. This movie is fantastic - you need to see it!