Nostalgic coming of age story starts from back seat
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 14:10
“The Way, Way Back” comes from writer-directors Jim Rash (“Community”) and Nat Faxon (co-wrote the Academy Award-Winning screenplay for “The Descendants” in 2011). Though only grossing a humble $20 million in the box office, this film boasts praise by both audiences and critics alike.
Duncan (Liam James) is a sheepish, introverted, 14-year-old boy who is whisked away for summer vacation with his mom, Pam (Toni Collete), her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Struggling to fit in and feeling distant from his mom coupled with an unbearably tense relationship with Trent, Duncan drives off on his majestic, pink bicycle in search of some peace.
He finds it at a local waterpark called Water Wizz, and more specifically in the person-hood of the water park’s manager, Owen (Sam Rockwell). Owen’s congenial character and laissez-fair attitude do more than just give the picture of a man with some cool guy swagger. He immediately takes to Duncan and sets to bringing him out of his shell, seeing to it that Duncan has a summer he won’t forget. Complete with break-dancing, water-sliding and a summer crush on his neighbor, Susanna (Annasophia Robb), Duncan not only begins to enjoy his vacation but discover more about who he is as a person.
The most beautiful thing about this particular coming-of-age story is that it’s not just Duncan who is changed for the better, but those who had the pleasure of knowing him are encouraged as well.
The writing for this particular film is absolutely phenomenal. Jim Rash and Nat Faxon got it exactly right. Of course, they’ve both been 14-year-old boys, and I’m sure they have both been forced to go on some summer vacation of which they weren’t exactly fond of. It’s such a simple story with complex, rewarding, redemptive character development—well, in most of the characters—and it hits home with so many people.
However, what Faxon and Rash probably get the most right is in the character of Owen. His attitude toward Duncan isn’t one of pity but rather of understanding. He doesn’t want to just feel sorry for this kid; he wants to see him grow as an individual, and that adds so much depth to his character. He becomes somewhat of a mentor for Duncan, and Owen himself is even encouraged in this.
The story is simple but beautiful, and all of the characters are portrayed and acted so well that any audience member could easily get wrapped up in the charisma and sincerity of this film. This film also has one of the better soundtracks I’ve heard in a while, and it’s currently available on Spotify; I would definitely recommend giving it a listen.
This film will be released on DVD in Oct. 22. So head out to the local Redboxes this fall and pick this beauty up. It’s worth the watch.