The Way Way Back is a 2013 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash in their directorial debut. The film stars Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, and Maya Rudolph, with Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, Faxon and Rash in supporting roles. The film focuses on the life of a 14 year old boy and the changes that he is going through with regards to family and himself.
Our 14 year old boy Duncan is a reluctant member of a family trip with his mother Pam and her boyfriend of the past year Trent and his teenage daughter Steph (who is older than Duncan, probably 16 or 17). After his parents divorced his life has turned 360 and he hasn’t seen his father much since then. Trent is trying to put himself as a dominant male in the relationship and is forcing Duncan to participate in things he has no interest in doing and ends up belittling and being rude to the boy. Once they reach the beach house in a sea side resort, Pam & Trent are most concerned with partying & drinking with Trent’s friends, a married couple named Kip & Joan. Their neighbour, the hard drinking Betty also forces herself into their events, with her daughter Susanna and Peter in tow. Steph barely tolerates Duncan and Susanna is new in his life so Duncan resorts to taking a bike he finds in the garage and exploring the town.
Duncan meets the staff of the Water Wizz, a local water theme park, at a pizza joint and befriends Owen who is playing Pac-Man. Owen takes the boy under his wing and shows him around the water park and soon hires him for doing odd jobs. The two bond as Duncan feels more at home with the fun loving, non-judgemental and caring staff, including Caitlyn, Lewis & Roddy. At a fourth of July cookout, Susanna invites Duncan to go with her and Peter to catch crabs and as she tells him about her father and her parents’ divorce she manages to get Duncan to open up. However Duncan late sees Trent making out with Joan at night. At another party Duncan gets angry with Pam, who suspects that Trent is cheating on her as he stays out late and is caught in a lie, and he calls out Pam on not confronting her boyfriend. Trent in turns tells Duncan that his father doesn’t want the boy. Susanna follows Duncan as he leaves in a huff to console him but as he leans in to get a kiss from her, she backs off making him more upset. He goes to the Water Wizz, followed by Peter, and joins in a going away party for Lewis. Staying all night, in the morning he finally tells Owen about Trent and the things he says & does and that he doesn’t want to go home but that he feels more happy at the Water Wizz. Owen shares the fact that he himself had an abusive father and that he doesn’t like rules & patterns.
As soon as Duncan reaches the beach house, Pam tells him that they are leaving with Trent & Steph. As Betty and her kids come to say goodbye, Susanna finally kisses Duncan, telling him she was just caught offguard the previous night. As they stop at a gas station near the water park, Duncan runs inside and tells Owen he wants to attempt a rarely done move of passing someone inside a water slide, which they do to the applause of the people at the park. After finally introducing Owen to his mother, Duncan says goodbye to everyone at the park. Trent, Steph, Pam, and Duncan regroup in the car, and head out of town. Pam climbs into backseat of the car and they share a smile as Trent’s protests are heard in the background.
Good movie, coming of age, longing for a sense of belonging and family and being the awkward one in a family. It’s more of a film festival type of film and may not appeal to the masses. I liked it a lot however and will give it an 8 outta 10!