#REVIEW: “THE WAY, WAY BACK”
Many Films have been made about Coming-of-Age and after drawing praise at Sundance earlier this year, The Way, Way Back stands out in a crowd of excellent Films of the genre like Adventureland, Big and Almost Famous. 14-year-old Duncan, his Mother Pam (Toni Collette), her Boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his Daughter pack-up and head-off for Summer Vacation together, in hopes of improving their struggling dynamic.
After seeing everyone else around him have fun, he realizes just how incredibly bored and alone he really is. While coping with the recent separation of his Parents and also harbouring general distrust towards Trent, he strikes-up a friendship with Neighbour Susanna (Annasophia Robb), who equally is a fish-out-of-water, and an unlikely bond with the happy-go-lucky Manager of a local Water Park in Owen (Sam Rockwell), secretly taking-up a job there. As Duncan comes out of his shell, the world around him simultaneously unravels. What will come of him, his new life-changing friendships and his new Family by Summer’s end?
Carell stretches his wings for once actually unlikeable – albeit intentionally – while Allison Janney steals the Show as Clam Bake and Alcohol-obsessed Neighbour, Betty (Susanna‘s Mom). Robb, whom has further built her profile of late as Carrie Bradshaw in The Carrie Diaries, absolutely radiates, completely crushworthy and reminiscent of a young Natalie Portman in 1996’s Beautiful Girls. Rockwell as always delivers his all with finesse and charmisma charming his way to our hearts as the forever-joking Owen, embodying that Father Figure whom Duncan is so much in need of. Nothing but praise can be directed at Canadian-born Talent James, known best for his work on Series The Killing. He is remarkably good at every moment, undergoing a subtle transformation to become a Hero of sorts through all of this.
Writers/Directors Jim Rash & Nat Faxon (themselves featured in hilarious Supporting Roles as Water Park Staffers) capture perfectly the essence of frustration, rebellion and akwkardness that comes with being 14-years-old. What makes this Drama/Comedy so unique is its fluidity between Adolescence and Adulthood. With the 14-year-olds actually behaving like adults, while the 40 year olds acting like College Kids, we soon forget this is a Story about a Boy, seeing it more as one about friendship, integrity and finding your own way in the World. Set against the backdrop of sunshine and water slides, Rash & Faxon manage to craft a Film that is delightfully funny and at once meaningful, sweet and melancholy. By the end of it, you won’t want Summer to conclude and that is when you know you’ve been affected.
Fox Searchlight releases The Way, Way Back on July 5, 2013 in Toronto, July 12, 2013 in Vancouver and July 26, 2013 in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Victoria, Winnipeg.