Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend's daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.
George, a lonely and fatalistic teen who has made it all the way to his senior year without ever having done a real day of work, is befriended by Sally, a popular but complicated girl who recognizes in him a kindred spirit.
High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Duncan (Liam James) is not a popular kid and it doesn't look like the summer is going to offer anything better for him. His mother's boyfriend has invited them to his beach house where Duncan is expected to improve his personality and physical appearance, and meet girls. But his would-be step-sister doesn't want anything to do with him and his shy demeanor makes it difficult for him to meet anybody new. When Duncan wanders into the Water Wizz, the local water park, he meets adult employees who are just having fun. Owen (Sam Rockwell) lets Duncan work with him and their new-found bond will help each other mature and find their place in life. Which for Duncan means standing up to his would-be step-father, having a conversation with the girl next door and being more comfortable with who he is. Written by
There's nothing to dislike about this movie. The actors do a terrific job all around--from the scene-stealing eyepatch kid to Allison Janey's lush to Steve Carrell's first role as a d-bag. Kudos to the kid playing Duncan and the guy playing his...boss? mentor? friend? saviour?--or all of the above. The scenery is lovely and convincingly real--no beach McMansions with $6,500 Wolf ranges. It shows what a real beach community looks like. The '70 Buick Estate Wagon is sublime and had me kvelling.
But it's the story that really makes the viewer smile. Duncan is a lost, lonely, mess...14, stuck with his mom whom he loves (but doesn't really respect), her douchebag boyfriend, boyfriend's daughter, and not much else. He finds his way in a way that defines a coming-of-age story. The Water Wizz guy--channeling Bill Murray in Meatballs in an obvious homage--does a great job, never losing sight of his own challenges in life while helping young Duncan emerge from his painful shell.
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