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MikePA's Movie Reviews (137)

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The Way, Way Back 
Review: The Way, Way Back
3.5/4 stars

Here is a film that is made by people who love film. And here is a film that makes me love and appreciate movies in general. The Way, Way Back is simply just freaking fantastic. It's one of my favorites of 2013, and I could tell you now that it's one of those gems I could watch again and again and never get sick of. From the wonderful performances to the incredible direction by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, everything about The Way, Way Back feels totally first rate. Forget things like World War Z and The Lone Ranger - The Way, Way Back is a movie you should definitely see.

The film focuses on Duncan (Liam James), an awkward 14-year-old boy who isn't really socially expressive. He's very awkward and quiet. This summer, he and his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), go off to his mother's boyfriend's, Trent (Steve Carell), beach house. Also with them is the boyfriend's daughter who is pretty irritating and adds nothing to the film. Anyway, Duncan isn't very happy about this, being that he hates Trent and the consistent disrespect he receives from him. At the beach house, Duncan must put up with Trent's rather strange family, including Betty (Allison Janney), Kip (Rob Corddry), and many other seriously dumb people. The only person Duncan could deal with is Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), Trent's niece. His summer at the beach house is pretty lame until he stumbles upon a waterpark, where he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell) and Caitlyn (Maya Rudolf), and where he slowly begins to become the person he is truly meant to be.

I think what I loved about The Way, Way Back is that it actually cares. We get so many films nowadays that just don't give a shit about themselves. The Way, Way Back does the exact opposite, as directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash provide us with memorable characters and a compelling script to hold us and keep us completely engaged. It's a very charming and witty film, but the turn it takes once Duncan meets the workers at the waterpark makes it a true gem. It's so good, you'll want to watch it right after it has ended.

The Way, Way Back explores familiar themes of friendships, relationships and, most notably, the usual "setting out to become who you're meant to be." It's all there, but the characters are so likable and rich, with a script so compelling you can completely overlook that because of how fresh it feels and how well made it is. My favorite thing about good films is the fact that I'm completely engrossed in the characters and the situations, it feels as if I've been pulled into the screen and breathe the same air as them, and when bad things happen I feel something powerful. The Way, Way Back delivered that powerful connection.

The performances are undeniably enjoyable. Being that the film's primary focus is on Duncan, played by Liam James who does a fairly convincing job, much of the supporting cast is just there to provide effective standouts. This isn't including Sam Rockwell's character, who isn't only a blast, but really feels like the type of guy you'd want to hang out with. What makes him a crucial character to the film is that he's crucial to Duncan's life. He's the person that motivates Duncan and allows him to just be who he wants to be. The rest of the cast do wonderful jobs at expressing their character for who they really are - notably Steve Carell who does an amazing job playing the mom's asshole boyfriend.

As powerful as Duncan's and Owen's relationship is, also working is the cute little relationship between Duncan and Susanna. It's light and entertaining, but it builds to the excellent ending which isn't just satisfying but totally realistic. You'll feel kind of upset that you'll be exiting the theater leaving these characters behind. Seriously.

The Way, Way Back is witty, fun, heartfelt, charming, and dramatically and emotionally working. It provided me with one of the more special movie-going experiences I've had this year.

3.5/4


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Anu

Anu- wrote on 07/10/13 at 06:12 AM CT

 

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