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.
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
While location scouting, Jim Rash would take pictures of beach houses that he felt would be good to film in. During filming, he discovered that one of the houses he photographed belonged to Steve Carell's in laws. See more »
Microphone visible inside Owen's shirt when he and Duncan are on top of slide. See more »
Duncan! On a scale of 1 to 10, what do you think you are?
I think you're a 3! Since I've been dating your mom, I don't see you putting yourself out there bud! You could try getting that score up at my beach house this summer!
See more »
Director debut from Oscar-winning writer-duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (THE DESCENDANTS 2011, 8/10), a diffident but sensitive 14-year-old boy Duncan (James) unwillingly spends the summer vacation with his mother Pam (Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Carell) in a beach house where he cannot fit in and is constantly under strains with the domineering Trent, coincidentally he forms a bond with Owen (Rockwell), a happy-go-lucky clerk in the local water land "Water Whizz", after clandestinely takes a part-time job there, Duncan experiences the time of his life and the dreary summer does't seem to be so unbearable.
Opens with Steve Carell drives a revamped station wagon, Collette is asleep in the passenger's seat, James sits in the way back seat facing backward, plus we foreknow a blue-chip ensemble with Rockwell, Janney, Peet, Rudolph and Robb, is it another deletable family confection like LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006, 9/10)? The very first conversation between Trent and Duncan shatters this speculation, Duncan has a rough road in this summer retreat, soon it turns out his presumable step-father is not only a pathological doctrinaire, but a two-timing sleaze-bag. The discordance also arises between Duncan and Pam, a typical miscommunication between a mother and her teenage son, Pam is an escapist seeks for protection under the roof of a marriage and is willingly to blindly ignore any snags on her way, but Duncan is a disgruntled son never understand why she cannot find someone better.
Supporting players galore, Duncan gets closer with Susanna (Robb), the next-door girl whose mother Betty (Janney) is a vexing garrulous boozehound, the amiable attachment between Duncan and Susanna is handled with care, realistic and never go overboard. Amanda Peet is perpetually underused as the third wheel old flame and Steve Carell assumes the villain role with dead seriousness with Zoe Levin as his haughty daughter, a bad exemplar of the ugly facet of our young generation. Collette accomplishes the duck soup with tangible nuances as a mother stuck in a morass.
But the most enthralling and funny part of the film is certainly located in Water Whizz, Rockwell is at the top his game with almost ad lib ambidexterity of spontaneity and sincerity, it is not so often to watch him engage in an otherwise mono-layer character, he is so ready for more awards recognition. Rash and Naxon also participate in the film and generate laughters as two buffoonish co-workers.
The film comes to the end as nothing ever happened, the hurtful truth, the unpleasant kerfuffle, Duncan has found his happy place but has to move on, however the positive message spreads from the very last scene renders viewers a firm conviction, life sucks, nevertheless, we can progress, even with baby steps.
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