Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, Oscar winners in 2011 for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, return to direct the heart warming comedy-drama The Way Way Back, starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell.
The story revolves around 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), a shy, awkward teenager who is forced to go on summer vacation with his dysfunctional family, including his mother’s overbearing boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell). Duncan, feeling cast adrift from his mother Pam (Toni Collette) as she bonds with her boyfriend and his close friends, forms an unlikely friendship with water park owner Owen (Sam Rockwell), who as well as giving him a job, with the help of girl next door Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), brings out a new lease of life in a young man who felt cast adrift from life.
You will find it hard to top the feel good factor that The Way Way Back washes you with. It is not just an extremely heart warming movie, but it is a very funny spectacle with several performances that deserve recognition. You see Steve Carell in a new light. He is the man you are supposed to hate, and he makes it so easy for us to do so with his infuriatingly annoying persona. Allison Janney is glorious as the quirky next door neighbour, Betty, with her quick wit and bubbly personality that you can not help but find infectious. The stand-out performer though is the brilliant Sam Rockwell. Not intent with just being hilarious, Rockwell manages with ease the transition between the goofy water park manager to the sensitive gentlemen, making it seem so believable.
The clever thing about the movie is that it is triple-layered. On the face of it is about a young boy finding his own identity in a disheveled world, but through looking hard at this young teen Faxon and Rash expertly dissect the lives of several other key characters, including Brent and Owen, whilst continuing to follow Duncan and his experiences.
The directorial pairing have delivered an infectious late-summer heart warmer that will leave you feeling deliriously happy from the first minute until last. The best thing about The Way Way Back is that it is not just a feel-good film, it has plenty of backbone too. It is a thoroughly entertaining film that is full of humour, spirit and character.