The Way, Way Back
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THE WAY, WAY BACK is the funny and poignant coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan's (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally find his place in the world - all during a summer he will never forget.
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The movie begins with the boy, Duncan, riding in a car with his family to his mother's boyfriend's beach house. As the mother sleeps in the passenger seat, the boyfriend asks Duncan to rate himself on a scale of 1 to 10. After replying with a 6, the boyfriend insists that he's just a 3. What's surprising is that this seemingly heartless guy that the mother is dating is played by Steve Carell. Carell is known for playing lovable and funny characters. But he switches it up with this role. That scene sets the tone for how little Duncan is looking forward to this summer trip. And it doesn't help that his mother doesn't really set her boyfriend straight even when she is awake.
To escape the annoyances at his new temporary home, Duncan takes a bike to ride around town with. When he finds a way into the local water park, he meets one of the middle-aged operators there named Owen. Duncan seems fascinated by Owen and how he uses humor in almost everything he says. It seems like he's never met anyone like him who's so worry-free and exudes such confidence all the time. Owen manages to get Duncan a job at the park where he tries to instill some of that same confidence in him as well. It becomes clear that as they bond with each other, Duncan wishes this would be the kind of guy his mother would date instead. The job at the water park also opens up a whole new fun side that this 14-year-old kid didn't even know he had in him. Amazing score by Rob Simonsen(500 Days Of Summer), Costume Design By Michelle Matland(Closer) & Ann Roth(Signs ) and Amazing Direction/Writing by Nat Faxon(The Descendents) & Jim Rash(Adopted) Truly heartfelt and Hilarious Dramedy 8/10
When you watch it, you too will be spurting out (in public...) "your eye makes people uncomfortable" and "holding, holding, holding and still holding"
It was fun to see Steve C. in a movie that he isn't likable. (at all) We watched it at the end of summer and it was perfect for us!
Duncan is a teenager that is mature for his age, but he has problems connecting with people and finding something to capture his attention. His mother is trying to forget about her problems and live it up with her new boyfriend, Trent, who is pretty much just a jerk. Owen is an immature adult, but as he starts to help Duncan loosen up he realizes he has some maturing to do himself. The point is, everyone has problems. I only named a few of the main characters, but nearly every person onscreen is fleshed out really well.
I'm a fan of independent films, but this one really tops the list. The Way Way Back grabs your attention from the first second and keeps you watching. Duncan is the awkward teenager that actually exists in real life, and the way he starts to come out of his shell is real. Speaking from personal experience, most movies and television shows with the "awkward/shy teen" don't really understand what it means to be shy. They assume the person just doesn't like people...but like Duncan, he just doesn't know HOW. He wants to but feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wants to be somewhere else, with different people. But like Owen says, "Carve your own path." And Duncan starts to see the upside in life, rather than just the downside. There are bad people, yes. But there are also good people. You choose who to be with.
I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone and everyone. It might just be my favorite movie of all time.
Things soon pick up for Duncan when he meets a girl that is living next door to him and he encounters a gentleman, Owen, at a local water park. At this point, Duncan would rather be at the water park then at home as he only feels happy when he is at the park with Owen and the other crew.
Duncan later discovers that Trent is having an affair and wants his Mother to end it with him, but she refuses, and Duncan later discovers that his father didn't want custody of him. After a late night at the water park, Duncan arrives back to find out that his Mother and Trent are leaving the cottage early, but Duncan is reluctant to leave.
In the end, Duncan makes one final stop at the water park to say goodbye to Owen and he eventually leaves with his Mom and Trent, but the ending is rather interesting.
I was impressed with the acting of Liam James (Duncan) and Sam Rockwell (Owen) in the film; many critics thought Rockwell should have been nominated for an academy award and I can see why after a spirited performance.
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I'm getting to be a Sam Rockwell fan.