Film Review – The Way Way Back (2013)

The Way Way Back

Title – The Way Way Back (2013)

Director – Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (feature debut)

Cast – Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, AnnaSophia Robb, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet

Plot – Spending the summer with his divorced mum Pam (Collette) at her new boyfriend Trent’s (Carell) beach house Duncan (James) looks set to be in for a long hot and arduous holiday season. Upon meeting girl Susanna (Robb) and getting a job at water park Water Wizz under the tutelage of Owen (Rockwell) things start to look up for Duncan.

“You’ve got to go your own way, and you, my friend, are going your own way”

Review by Eddie on 4/12/2013

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 loveable 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

24 responses to “Film Review – The Way Way Back (2013)

    • Glad you enjoyed it to Niall, Kings of Summer looks great! Not sure when it will find it’s way to Australia though unfortunately.

      It Rockwell was campaigned hard for a supporting Oscar I reckon he could get in but competition pretty tough this year.

  1. Good review Eddie. The whole cast seems to be enjoying the hell out of this material, even if, at the end of the day, it is a safe and conventional script.

    • It seems that way didn’t it? Could sense a great vibe was present on set and a heap of fun to be apart of. I could think of worse places to work than on a real life Water Park set 🙂

  2. Didn’t like this quite as much review (I think Trent is terribly developed as pure bad guy and nothing more), but I agree it is a fun flick. I even think it was incredibly close to exceptional greatness.

  3. Loved this film and will definitely include it on my 2013 top 10 list! Rockwell has become one of those actors that I don’t think twice about… If he is in the film I am going to see it!

  4. Solid work Eddie. Agreed about Rockwell, man he was a hoot. I thought Rash popping up every now and then was pretty hilarious. “MY DOCTOR’S SAY I CAN’T GET WATER ON MY FACE!!” I will forever crack up at the scene when I inevitably buy copies of this DVD for myself and the entire family. lol I loved this.

  5. I really enjoyed Steve Carrell playing such an asshole. Allison Janney is my spirit animal. Sam Rockwell is too dreamy. You’re welcome for this incredibly insightful comment.

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