Movie Review: The Way Way Back (Confirmed: EPIC)

The Way Way Back, isn't your typical summer movie!

     What exactly is a summer movie? Has it simply become giant robots punching each other or superheroes racing to stop a doomsday device, or can a summer movie still be something more?  A couple of weeks ago the answer to what summer movies have become would probably have been a relatively simple one, answered by post credits stingers and marketing stretched to cover the globe.  That was until the theatrical release of one of the favorite films of Sundance 2013: The Way Way Back.  Could this film really restore the promise of a summer movies? Find out after the break……

Who would have ever thought that Steve Carell, could be such a jerk of a potential Step Dad!
      The Way Way Back is a classic coming of age story (I say classic because sadly, many film makers have forgotten about this treasured sub genre) revolving around 14 year old Duncan (Liam James) as he tries to cope with his mother Pam’s (Toni Collette) choice of what looks to be his soon to be jerk of a stepfather, Trent (Steve Carell), and his overly hormonal potential step sister, Steph (Zoe Levin), on a trip to Carrell’s summer beach: the Riptide.  After being berated countless times by his mother's boyfriend, Duncan decides to explore the rest of the beach where he runs into Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of the local water park Water Wizz, at a pizza parlor. Little does Duncan know he has a met a friend who will shape his life.

Sometimes a father figure can come from the most unconventional places, even a water park!
      The Way Way Back does an incredible job of providing a truly authentic look at what it's like to grow up and discover who you are.  The film doesn't just do lip service to growing up; it covers almost all the questions you had as kid in a very realistic but comically entertaining way, such as: your first job, learning how to dance, and of course, checking out the opposite sex. The film then bravely chooses to break the shackles and tropes of old school coming of age stories, giving the film its own place among the likes of films such as The Sandlot and Stand by Me.  For example, what happens when you don’t get the girl the way you thought you should? Or when your parent's love for you is truly brought into question? These are the type of serious but relatable questions The Way Way Back deals with.

The Way Way Back deals with classic coming of age elements in it's own way!

      Thankfully, the film deals with such questions in very heartfelt way while at the same time keeping authenticity intact.  This is made possible by the incredible ensemble cast that was rounded up for this film.  In addition to the core family members and Sam Rockwell, the film boasts some very talented actors playing very believable character roles to their fullest potential, such as recovering alcoholic Betty (Allison Janey), Trent’ carefree best pal Kip (Rob Corddry), the sleazy neighbor Joan (Amanda Peet), the annoyed but hilarious crappy job employee Lewis (Jim Rash), Owen's love interest Caitlyn (Maya Rudolph), and of course Duncan’s summer crush, the lovely Susanna (Anna Sophia Robb). Liam James' performance as Duncan aside, what really makes this film work are the performances of Rockwell and Carrell.  Steve Carrell truly stepped out of his comfort zone of being the loveable lose, to play to perfection the role of that jerk of a boyfriend moms always seem to date.  As for Rockwell, enough can’t be said about his performance here; it truly is one of the most heartfelt performances we have seen in a very long time.  For some reason, Sam Rockwell never comes up when people discuss the most talented actors in the business despite embodying every character he takes on to his fullest extent, always resulting in a memorable performance.

Carell and Rockwell really make this film work!

     This time the performance given by Rockwell centers around his character Owens’s role as a mentor to Duncan.   Rockwell is able to channel his characters past life experiences, transforming Duncan from a shy introvert to discovering the type of man he should be and proving that sometimes the role of a dad can come from the most unpredictable places in life, even a place called Water Wizz. 
It's safe to say The Way Way Back is the best film I have seen this summer!

The Way Way Back is the best film so far this summer because it proves everything a summer movie still can be.  While audiences love the escape of mindless summer blockbusters, there is nothing wrong with asking them to expect and want more out of a summer film.  That is exactly what directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have done here:  to believe in filmgoers' desire to experience the true magic of what a summer can mean, rather than simply provide a big budget spectacle.

Confirmed: EPIC


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