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
The script was written in 2007 as "The Way Back", but the title was later changed to avoid confusion with the film The Way Back (2010). The title refers to the "way back seat," the 1970s colloquial expression for the third, often-hidden seat located in the cargo section of a station wagon. See more »
Susanna follows Duncan on her bike to the water park, yet on returning home she comes back with Duncan just with his bike. See more »
[Duncan talks with Susanna. Owen and Roddy see him, and are impressed. Owen talkes via the PA system]
Please report to the Administrative Offices International. Duncan, please report to the Administrative Offices International. I have to announce it over the PA as my voice won't carry that far. My throat suffered major damage during an intense make-out session with Lewis' mom. She has a forked tongue and a touch of the herpes.
I don't have a mom. I have two dads. In your face.
[...] See more »
Sam Rockwell watched "Meatballs" 11 times to prepare for this
Great movie, funny, charming, etc. You can read the other reviews for adjectives I couldn't come up with. I just wanted to focus on the performances (in particular that of Sam Rockwell) to give you a taste of what's in store.
As my title suggests, in the Behind the Scenes feature, Sam Rockwell confesses that he watched Bill Murray in Meatballs eleven times to help develop the fast-yammering, charmingly-sarcastic, lovable slob "Owen" whom he plays in this film. Rockwell also mentions other iconic 80s influences like Michael Keaton (I'm assuming "Beetlejuice"), and although he didn't say it, I would throw in the late, great Robin Williams ("Good Morning Vietnam"). What I'm trying to say is that Rockwell's performance in "The Way, Way Back" is a HILARIOUS homage to those characteristic comedy leads you may have grown up with if you're between the ages of 30 and 50. Heck, even if not, it's never too late to get acquainted.
"Owen" is the sort of kind-hearted yet darkly witty character who walks around mumbling hilarious zingers to himself almost as if he's alone in a psych ward. That is, until he snaps out of it and says (to his unappreciative, deadpan co star) something like, "WOW, do you even get comedy?" or "Come on, that was some of my best material!" The result is a true Rockwell original: a character who's a weird blend of Bill Murray and maybe Rain Man ("Kmart sucks"). This movie is well worth watching for its story alone, but Rockwell is what gives it that extra little push over the cliff.
Playing lesser roles but just as fun to watch are Owen's band of misfit coworkers at "Water Wizz" (ya gotta love that hilarious name which, oddly enough, is the REAL name of the water park where this was filmed). There's Maya Rudolph who plays Owen's keeper, or the only real "adult" at the water park. There's writer/director Nat Faxon playing "Roddy", a harmless pervert who operates the water slide. And there's the other writer/director Jim Rash playing "Lewis" in his funniest role since he played "Andrew" on Reno 911 (yes that was him, the weird pervert who used to call the sheriff's department for such outrageous crimes as a prostitute getting peach Schnapps on his man parts).
Thus, without even getting into the story, the stage is set with some of the weirdest personalities you can imagine. The story, as you've probably figured out by the IMDb summary, is about "Duncan", a 14-year-old boy who is subjected to an excruciating summer at the home of his mother's new boyfriend (played by The Office's Steve Carell, but in a role that makes you want to call child services on him). Duncan, suffering from a severe case of introversion, if not a terminal case of uncool, wanders into Water Wizz one afternoon, and the fun begins. What's great about Liam James' portrayal of Duncan is that, unlike a lot of introverted coming-of-age characters who are actually somewhat in control, Liam conveys a sense of absolute psychological spaghetti. What I mean is that this kid seems to be just 1 trauma away from growing up to be a serial killer. That gives the story much more meaning when you realize that this poor kid, thanks to the absolute failure of all adults in his life, is desperately in need of rescuing.
I also have to add major comedy points to Allison Janney who plays the mai-tai swilling next door neighbor in tight pants (think Peg Bundy). In addition to putting on the best Boston accent (she's actually from Ohio), her rapid fire, largely improvised wit is an absolute treat to watch. It should be noted that in an interview Allison admits that her character's mannerisms as well as a lot of priceless lines came from some of her real life friends. So yes, I guess people like that really exist.
Whether you're looking for a coming of age story, a story about dysfunctional families, or just a great comedy, this movie is well worth the price of admission. It may even inspire you to take a trip to Water Wizz to hurl yourself down the Devil's Peak slide (which was given its name for this film and it stuck). Just don't try to pass anyone on the slide, or it may lead to intense depression, self-loathing and a meaningless future as a male prostitute. Watch the movie and you'll get the joke.
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