'The Way, Way Back'
“The Way, Way Back” is a coming of age story that features the summer that you always wanted to have and never had. That same summer is also the summer that you never wanted to have and hopefully didn’t.
Sam Rockwell and the Water Wizz Park provide for plenty of laughs as the main character, 14-year-old Duncan played by Liam James, tries to deal with the summer from hell provided by his mother’s cheating boyfriend.
The basic synopsis is this: awkward, boy goes someplace he doesn’t want to be, gets hit on by the hot chick who reads, finds a mentor with a job and gets picked on by mom’s boyfriend while experience awkward situations created by the boyfriend’s friends.
Every scene featuring Rockwell was a scene of pure joy. This is how life should be. It is how grownups should be for kids. No one has more fun than Rockwell’s character, Owen, and his crew but even Owen has a character arc that he comes through just fine.
James’ Duncan is everything an awkward teen should be – slouching shoulders, doesn’t quite fit in his own skin and trying to stay disconnected while dealing with the fact that his mom is dating a jerk and dad is not really anything more than an off screen plot device.
Steve Carell plays the jerk, and he starts the film showing just how much of a jerk Trent is. Unfortunately for Duncan, Trent is only a jerk to Duncan and only when no one else can see or hear. He is a jerk to Duncan’s mom, but not to her face.
The adults smoke weed, drink to the point of falling down, make sex an explicit part of the summer and generally behave like they are “spring break.”
In the end, the laughs in this film become all the more important as the situation at home becomes more tenuous. Those laughs are never out of place. They are not at Duncan or anyone in the film. Instead, they are the laughs that come from clean comedy, awkward situations and the triumphs that probably never happened to you as a child.
Fortunately, memory is a funny thing. It is quite possible that you remember having a summer like Duncan’s, but you probably only remember the good parts.
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