The Way Way Back
A real joy of a film that leaves you uplifted and laughing throughout
When you think of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash it’s easy to recognize them from many American films and TV shows whilst also finding it difficult to remember their names. Between them they have featured in plenty of popular shows without gaining a huge stardom, the filmography consists the likes of Community (2009), Bad Teacher (2011) and Minority Report (2002). Having collaborated together in writing the screenplay for The Descendants (2011) they were clearly looking to make use of other talents and this film marks their directing debut.
The film centres on the shy and reclusive 14 year old Duncan who has to endure a summer vacation with his mum, her annoying boyfriend and step-sister. With no-one to connect to he becomes ever more socially refrained before meeting Owen the manager of a local water park, in which they strike up an unlikely friendship.
To begin as I mean to go on (that being very positive) I really loved the whole story and clearly the script has been well thought out. Faxon and Rash reportedly spent a long time preparing the screenplay, thankfully it plays out really well. This film could of easily fallen pray to it’s genre and plot stereotypes in that it features a awkward teenager on a summer vacation. Fortunately It never feels clichéd and this resonates even more so through the characters and great casting.
I wan’t it known that I’ve always rated Sam Rockwell even before his hailed performance in the brilliant Moon (2009) There’s something fantastic in his almost subtle arrogance he manages to portray in his characters and he once again proves himself as water park owner Owen. It really is perfect casting for which the part was no doubt written with Rockwell in place for the rebellious nature of the character comes naturally to him. Alongside rising child star Liam James playing Duncan the connection between the two was always going to be pivotal and this excels in gaining the laughs whilst catching the most heart felt moments. Perhaps the most inspired piece of casting comes in the form of Steve Carell as the overbearing step father suitably named Trent (Not to be all Katie Hopkins but what kind of name is that?) Carell achieves in making the audience side with Duncan and immediately hate his guts, it’s quite a reserved performance and some what different than his past roles however it worked really well. There’s a few others worth mentioning, Toni Collette is great as a mother blind to her boyfriends mistrust and failing emotional connection with her son. Finally Faxon and Rash have time to input as supporting roles in the form of staff at the water park, both adding towards the laughter.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of times I laughed whilst also being emotionally engaged with the very real characters on display. As I talked about (perhaps too much) the casting is fantastic in particular Rockwell and I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the film gain a few awards.
Solid laughs throughout and truly uplifting
Favourite film of the year so far?