The Way, Way Back
Starring: Steve Carrell, Sam Rockwell, Liam James, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Directed by: Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Run Time: 103 mins
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
Opens July 12th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Hey Phoenix Film Fans! Opening this week is another film that played at this year’s festival, that if you missed, here’s your chance to catch it in theaters. Co-written and co-directed by Academy Award Winning writers for ‘The Descendants”, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. This is the duo’s directorial debut, so how do they do? Read on to find out....
Every teenager’s nightmare is to go away with their family on a “family” vacation. Fourteen year old Duncan (Liam James) is in his own personal hell. Instead of visiting his dad in San Diego for the summer, he’s stuck with his mom Pam (Toni Collette), her jerk of a boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) and his stuck up daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin) traveling to Trent’s beach house on the Massachusetts coast. Trent has this unrelenting way of cutting Duncan’s self esteem down to nothing, citing it as a way to become closer as a family.
When they arrive at Trent’s beach house, Duncan feels more alone than ever as his mom gets pulled off with Trent and his friends; Steph and her friends ignore him, and the only other boy close to Duncan’s age is the next-door neighbor kid, Peter (River Alexander) who’s pretty unusual himself.
Trying to avoid Trent and his mom becomes a game to Duncan, so he spends his afternoons exploring the nearby town. He stumbles across the path of some of the local water park employees, one of them who takes Duncan under his proverbial wing. Owen (Sam Rockwell) is the overseeing manager/ resident comedian of Water Wizz water park and employs Duncan for the summer. Owen, along with fellow employees Caitlin (Maya Rudolph), Roddy (Nat Faxon) and Lewis (Jim Rash) help Duncan get through the summer by teaching him the ropes of the park.
While on his off hours, things around the home don’t get any better as tensions rise between Duncan, Pam and Trent. Will Duncan be able to survive the summer or will Trent get the best of him?
“The Way, Way Back” is a rare treat in the cinematic arena as it delivers big laughs, memorable characters and and uplifting feeling that leaves the viewer on a sort of film high. Everything magically comes together in this coming of age story that makes it stand out from the other films out there in the same genre. What was really amazing was to see Sam Rockwell in a role other than a psycho or villain, which he plays brilliantly. Steve Carrell was also playing against type, going for the villain role which he pulls off splendidly. The comedic timing and pairing of Allison Janney and River Alexander makes for one of the memorable mother/ son roles in recent memory, one more outrageous than the other. Toni Collette is more subdued in her role as Duncan’s mother Pam but plays the introvert amazingly. The rest of the cast is perfectly assembled, and one of the best comedic ensembles for a film this year. The writing is phenomenal, which stems out of a personal experience Director/ Writer/ Actor Jim Rash had as a teenager. By far, this is one of the best films of the year and one not to be missed. Be sure to check out “The Way, Way Back” when it opens Friday July 12, 2013.