For Reel

The Way Way Back (2013)
December 14, 2013, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
3.5 Stars
The Way Way BackA charming but altogether derivative coming-of-age story about “the summer that changed everything”, The Way Way Back is bolstered by good supporting turns and a vivid sense of place. The place is a seaside town in Cape Cod wherein young Duncan (Liam James) is reluctantly forced to spend his summer vacation alongside his mother (Toni Collette) and her antagonistic boyfriend (Steve Carrell). Duncan’s daily excursions away from his family lead him to Water Wizz, a local water park with employees that recognize his potential and integrate him into their community. Sam Rockwell is delightfully charismatic as Owen, the park’s manager, whose talent for deadpan ribbing is, of course, met by his big heart. The picture’s biggest problem is the young star James, who to the film’s credit is much more average looking than what Hollywood tends to pass off as an outcast. When the script calls for him to be passive he tends to get by–the moments that ring truest are the scenes in which he disappears into the background and simply observes the people around him–but his transformation into the gregarious, well-liked stud is less convincing. Nonetheless, if it is forgettable fare, it is at least pleasing in its sweetness–the sort of feel-good throwback that even the most cynical movie-goer could have imagined loving had they first seen it early in their teens.

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