When I was a kid, I watched movies from other countries about other kids growing up in different cultures and backgrounds, and I realised that I was only going to experience growing up once, in my culture and with my background. That’s it. I have since moved around and have lived in 3 different countries in different parts of the world, which is great, but I didn’t grow up in these places. After all, you only get to grow up once. Maybe that’s why I love a good coming of age film. The Way Way Back is one of those films. In fact, and perhaps I am biased here, I think it’s an absolutely great film.
The story is written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, Oscar winning screenwriters who also play small parts in the film (brilliantly!). Some promotional reviews have said this is a fantastically laugh-out-loud brilliant film. I think that’s the marketing talking. There was maybe one part that made me laugh out loud, but mostly it’s not THAT kind of comedy. This film has moments that make you smile, make you laugh, make your heart ache, make you want to scream in anguish, make you want to smack someone (in this case, Steve Carell), and make you want to give someone you love a hug. There may even have been a moment or two when my eyes were a bit… moist.
The story is about fourteen-year-old Duncan, played by Liam James, who has to spend his summer with his divorced mum, played by the always amazing Toni Collette. His mom’s new boyfriend is played by Steve Carell, who for a change is playing the bad guy here. Things are not happy for Duncan at home, but he soon meets Owen, Sam Rockwell’s character, and a friendship develops. Now all that may sound really boring, but it’s how the characters slowly grow and develop that make the film so good. You see both the good and the bad in the characters, and you get drawn in to share the joy and sadness. In one scene where Duncan confronts his mom about a certain situation (I shall not spoil it by saying what), he shouts to his mom to “do something” and I almost involuntarily jumped in and echoed “yeah, do something!”.
Some people don’t care much for this genre, but if you do like this kind of films, The Way Way Back is brilliantly made. You’ll find yourself investing your emotions in the characters and at the end, you get paid back exactly how these films are meant to pay you back – you “feel good”. This is definitely one for my collection! Check out the trailer below.