Sunday, August 11, 2013

Now in Theaters: The Way Way Back (2013)



The Way Way Back (2013) - Written and Directed by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash; Starring Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash.

By Kenny Howell

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash get their turn at the director's chair with this tale of teen boy finding himself while on a summer vacation with his mom and her boyfriend.

Faxon and Rash won an Oscar for the screenplay for The Descendants two years ago, but I don't really see much of a comparison between that film and this one. The Way Way Back is more comedic in tone thanks to rapid fire dialogue performed by Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney, but it still goes for the dramatic at times.

Liam James plays Duncan, a nerdy 14-year-old who goes to his mom's boyfriend's beach summer home for the break. Carell plays the boyfriend, Trent, a rare role of a dick who torments Duncan, and is probably not the best fit for his mom, played by Collette.

While wandering around the small beach town, he comes across a water park called the Water Wizz, run by the crazy Owen (Rockwell). He strikes up a friendship with Owen, and gets a job at the park. There, he comes into his own, and finally finds his happy place in life.

The movie treads some typical coming-of-age ground, but everyone in the cast does it so well, it brings it new life. Rockwell is very Rockwellian, which means very funny, and Janney matches him in tone, though they are never on the screen at the same time. They can both be a bit of an overkill at times, but it is still quite funny. Kudos to Carell as well who manages to play a really convincing jerk, something I wasn't sure he could do. He just seems too nice in real life, and his characters are usually vulnerable in a different way. His Trent is vulnerable as well, but hides it under a false sense of bravado. Carell doesn't get as much credit as he deserves as a terrific actor, not just a talented comedic actor.

Rating: ***1/2

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