14-year-old Duncan is headed on summer vacation with his single mother, her domineering new boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. The idea behind the vacation is to get away and hopefully become a stronger family but for Duncan, things couldn't be worse. Duncan is an introverted young man and is having a lot of trouble fitting in. That is until he meets Owen, the manager of the Water Wizz water park, an unlikely friend who teaches Duncan a valuable lesson about himself and life in general. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's The Way, Way Back is a funny and poignant coming of age story that succeeds because of ifs strong cast and well-intentioned screenplay. While Duncan is unquestionably the main protagonist, Sam Rockwell's Owen and Allison Jenney's Betty really steal the show. Duncan is a young teenager who is really struggling to find a place where he belongs and the film never forgets that this is his story. Many of the character's which surround Duncan feel like they come from an exaggerated reality from Steve Carrell's full-of-himself Trent, to Trent's daughter Steph, among others. While this sounds like a major problem, I didn't really mind it too much given that this is a film completely from Duncan's point-of-view. Liam James does a great job as Duncan, really nailing the socially awkward aspect of the character. My main problem with The Way, Way Back is that many of the dramatic beats are too direct or on-the-nose for my liking, lacking any real semblance of subtlety. The Way, Way Back wears its themes on its sleeve, announcing how important it's to be yourself, no matter what society or outsiders want you to be. At the end of the film, The Way, Way back rightfully doesn't feel the need to wrap up all of the dramatic conflicts of the film, and because of this, I found it be far more resonant in its conclusion.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.