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.
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.
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.
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
Way Way to the top of my list as one of the best movies of 2013!
I have to go way way back in thinking of a coming-of-age summer comedic movie that made me feel so good, and in doing that the classic "Meatballs" comes to mind. The dynamic duo team of Nat Faxon & Jim Rash have swimmingly perfected a film that homages "Meatballs" and puts a new spin to it, without duplicating it; and that would be in their craft filmmaking of "The Way Way Back". The film stars teen actor Liam James as 14 year-old Duncan who is an isolated teen who despises the idea of taking a summer vacation with his timid mother Pam, her arrogant boyfriend Trent, and Trent's narcissistic daughter Steph. Their vacation spot is at Trent's beach house where nearby has a water park; I will slide into that one a little later in my review. Trent does have a few eccentric neighbors in his beach house which include the lush-filled gabby Betty, a divorcée with three kids; and also the vociferous couple Kip & Joan. Duncan is constantly ridiculed and excluded by Trent and Stephanie which puts him in the perpetual state of "I want to get the f*ck of out of here". However, in a twist of fate, Duncan befriends the vivacious water park employee Owen, perfectly played by Sam Rockwell. Consequently, Duncan starts to regularly visit the water park to hang with Owen and the other water park wacky employees. And before you know it, Duncan plummets himself to a part-time working gig at the park; unknowing to his mom and Trent. Duncan takes flight at the water park and you see the "coming-of-age" turn at every moment in his time there. Owen's character is very reminiscent of the Tripper character (played to the tee by Bill Murray) in "Meatballs". But Rockwell plays the part so superbly that it does not appear to be a Tripper duplication but instead a modern transformation within its Tripper homage; tripped out yet? Duncan also befriends Betty's teen daughter Susanna, who empathizes with Duncan's situation in dealing with a callous potential stepdaddy. Faxon & Rash's masterful direction & screenplay of "The Way Way Back" was not dead on the water; in fact- the vitality, humor, and tenderness they brought to the movie's direction & screenplay should hopefully land them in the wave of Oscar contenders for Best Director & Best Original Screenplay. As far as the thespian pool of the picture, I must state that it was a perfect ensemble. James showed potentiality that he will be on his way back to other leading roles with his fine work as Duncan. Steve Carell's performance as Trent showed the depth to his acting by playing a part non-typical to the Carell filmography; Trent was sure one heartless bastard, and Carell disappeared into the role. Toni Collette was spic & spam in her role as Duncan's mom Pam. Faxon & Rash themselves were a hoot playing two water park employees, Roddy and Lewis. Other supporting turns that were no lazy river works were of Anna Sophia Robb as Susanna, Rob Corddry & Amanda Peet who we had fun with as Kip & Joan, and Maya Rudolph as water park manager Caitlin; and I would be remiss if I did not mention the standout, scene-stealing performance from Allison Janney as the wickedly-hilarious Betty. Be it as it may, it was still Rockwell that stole the show here. His work in "The Way Way Back" should slide him into a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. "The Way Way Back" is a gem of a movie, and I hope it does not land "way way back" in your "movies to see" list; if for no better reason, you will be delaying time in missing one heck of a flick. ***** Excellent
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