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The Way Way Back (2013)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  26 July 2013 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 108,071 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 209 user | 273 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

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.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Weaver ...


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 napierslogs

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We've All Been There.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

26 July 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Way Back  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$552,788 (USA) (5 July 2013)


$21,501,098 (USA) (15 November 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Steve Carell initially turned the movie down because he and his family go on vacation to his home state (Massachusetts) every Summer. However it was later discovered that the location of the film shoot was a short drive away from where Carell and his family vacationed, therefore he was able to accept the role. See more »


When Owen and Roddy are jokingly giving Duncan a hard time for flirting with Susanna, a girl wearing a purple bikini walks past them three times, going in the same direction each time. See more »


Joan: Carry a laser down the road that I must travel!
Kip: Why would it be 'carry a laser'?
Joan: Because it's a song about outer space.
See more »


Features Pac-Man (1982) See more »


Young At Heart
Written by Tim Myers, Jim Greer and Brandon Arnovick
Performed by Tim Myers feat. Rondo Brothers
Courtesy of Palladium Records
By arrangement with Zync Music Group LLC
See more »

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User Reviews

One of 2013's most enjoyable films
3 December 2013 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Thanks to some fun spirited supporting turns and an easy going charm The Descendants writing duo of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's coming of age dramedy The Way Way Back is one of this year's most enjoyable and lovable films and one that will make you want to find the nearest water park.

Despite The Way Way Back not being particularly original by any stretch of the imagination, there is a freshness and sincerity to Faxon and Rash's script that allows actors such as the ever great Sam Rockwell as charming man-child Owen and Alison Janney as the not so charming divorce' Betty to truly shine in roles that are some of the year's best written and best performed. I think it's needful to make a more particular mention of Rockwell's performance in this film, a performance that reaffirms that Rockwell is one of the most professional actors working today and as his memorable roles continue to build he is quickly establishing himself as one of the most fully formed character actors to have worked in the industry. In concerns to the other performers in the film, Carell as an against type arrogant pig does well to subvert his usual characteristics and Collette is as solid as ever.

The Way Way Back's major stumbling block is strangely Liam James as our 14 year old protagonist Duncan. Jame's role was perhaps played to perfection but his sulky introverted teenager isn't exactly a barrel of laughs to be around and in some scenes it feels like his in need of a good old fashioned shake up and a reminder that your life is not that bad. The film also has some other elements that whilst fun seem slightly forced, such as Duncan's "Pop and Lock" impromptu dance off at the water park or Jim Rash's appearances as creepy park employee Lewis. Overall though these slight missteps can't diminish the films many qualities in any significant movie ruining manner.

It's refreshing to watch a movie that is a pure unbridled joy to sit back to and watch. The teenager inside all of us can relate to many an anguish or awkward moment that appears throughout the film and there are many stand out comedic moments delivered by the white hot performance of Rockwell. In a year filled with many a bloated and misguided tale The Way Way Back is like one of those good water slides that you'll want to race back to again and again.

4 Candy Land's out of 5

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