“You’ve got to go your own way, and you, my friend, are going your own way.”
Duncan (Liam James) is fourteen years old and incredibly awkward. As though things are not bad enough for him, he is dragged out with his mother Pam (Toni Colette) on summer vacation to Cape Cod with her new boyfriend, Trent Ramsey (Steve Carell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Trent is not a really nice guy, and is pretty nasty to Duncan, speaking with him in ways that can only be construed as emotional abuse, truly being cruel, mean and demeaning. Duncan sucks it up and Pam turns a blind eye. When they arrive, they are met by alcoholic like Betty (Allison Janney) and her children Susanna (Anna Sophia Robb) and Peter (River Alexander), who has a lazy eye, and they are their neighbours. Duncan is not feeling the summer vibes, and is awfully unhappy.
“I think you’re a 3! Since I’ve been dating your mom, I don’t see you putting yourself out there bud! You could try getting that score up at my beach house this summer!” – Trent
Soon they meet Kip (Robb Corddry) and Joan (Amanda Peet), a married neighbouring couple, and the two older couples spend a lot of time together. Desperate to get away from his mother and the dreadful Trent and bitchy Steph, he takes a look in the garage and finds a terribly bright and sparkly pink bike with streamers, and starts to explore the town. One day his explorations take him to a pizza place where he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of Water Wizz, the local water park. Owen obviously has more to say than the socially awkward Duncan, and then he is gone just as fast. Duncan continues his stunted forays into trying to have conversations with Susanna while still avoiding her mother and brother, Peter. Owen discovers Duncan at the Water Wizz, and takes the dejected boy under his wing and introduces him to the rest of the staff: Caitlyn (Maya Rudolph), whom Owen is in love with though she cannot stand him and his juvenile ways, Lewis (Jim Rash), who is always threatening to leave the park, and Roddy (Nat Faxon), who mans the tube slide and is a master at getting the hot girls ready to be scoped out. By the end of the day Owen offers Duncan a job for the summer, should he wish to take it, and Duncan agrees.
“Oh, the park? Um, I’ve always been there. Ever since I was a small Cambodian child. Of course, that was after ‘Nam.” – Owen
Duncan is unhappy with his mother partying and smoking weed and all that, and finds refuge in his job at the water park. Owen is urging Duncan out of his shell more, and it seems to be working wonders for the kid and his self-esteem. Duncan is learning loads about himself, and Owen is there every step of the way, encouraging. Duncan keeps his job a secret, and is upset one night when he finds Trent in a very compromising position with Joan, and the two are too cosy, and realises that Trent has been cheating on his mother. He will not tell Pam, but sees that she works it out for herself soon enough, though it appears that she is doing nothing about it. Duncan really wants to go see his father, whom he misses a lot since his parents’ divorce. The water park keeps him busy though, and even gets him chilled out enough to start spending a little time with Susanna.
“I wish I could stay here forever.” – Duncan
Will Duncan finally break out of his shell? Will Trent continue to bully Duncan? Will Pam never step in and put her foot down to defend her son? Will Duncan even make a move on Susanna? How will Duncan feel about going home at the end of the summer now that he is starting to change and grow as a person? Will Trent continue his relationship with Joan on the side? Will Pam stand by and allow that?
“Don’t die wondering, man.” – Duncan
A solid 8.5/10 for The Way Way Back. This movie just knocked my socks off. I read so many good things about it, but was not necessarily sold on it, if you know what I mean. I am not the world’s biggest coming of age movie fan, so this was destined to be just average in my eyes, or so I thought. The movie started and instantly pulled me into the story and the characters. Liam James was so bloody well cast to play Duncan, and I think he was the perfect choice. I am a fan of Sam Rockwell, and I read a hell of a lot of good things about his performance, but damn I was not expecting what I got! He stole the show every time he made an appearance, and had me in stitches time and time again. He was just amazing to watch. Steve Carell irritated me intensely in here, but for a change not as a two bit actor. He was just such a douche, and worked on my nerves endlessly. People like that are cruel and I cannot stand them. Duncan’s borrowed little pink bike really had me laughing a whole lot. My cheeks ached by the time this was over. It was such a wonderful journey to undertake with Duncan, who is ridiculously awkward and sweet, and to watch him grow into himself a little more. It is definitely nothing new or unheard of, but it was strung together well and the story was tight, the soundtrack perfect and the camera work smooth, really making this film into something that was just fantastic! I had tons of fun with this and cannot recommend it highly enough!