Unlike many summer movies that focus on big budgets, explosions, CGI and crassness to help draw in potential customers, The Way Way Back looks to draw you in with its heart. Even though the coming of age story is an overused and often grey genre, the spirited performances of all the cast members and a well written script give this movie a real sense of character and heart.
It follows the summer vacation of Duncan (Liam James), an awkward 14-year-old and his mother (Toni Collette) going to her boyfriend, Trent’s (Steve Carell) summer home in a coastal town and the various incidents that then follow. Liam James really makes you feel bad for him in the beginning, but then has you rooting for him by the end of the film due to his great take on Duncan’s above average awkwardness. Even Steve Carell surprisingly aces one of the few roles that I’ve seen him not play the loveable goofball. In fact, he aces the douche boyfriend role so well that I felt myself tensing up in my seat whenever he was on screen.
However, all other performances aside, the actor who made this movie for me was Sam Rockwell. He plays Owen, a local water park owner who trains Duncan to realize his potential. Owen does this through not only mentoring, but also forcing Duncan into hopelessly awkward situations to make him build his confidence and swagger. Rockwell’s dialogue is fast, very funny and helps to draw you into the plot as well as have you rooting for him and Duncan throughout the rest of the film.
Overall, The Way Way Back is one of the best and most enjoyable films I have had the pleasure of watching. I look forward to when this comes out on Blu-Ray so I can watch this many, many more times.