If you haven’t seen it (and you most likely haven’t), I highly recommend the film The Way Way Back.
It’s a drama/comedy (rated PG-13) that came out last year (2013), making less than $22 million at the box office, so not a whole lot of people saw it.
An extremely shy, awkward 14 year old boy, Duncan (Liam James), does his best to cope while on vacation in a small town near Cape Cod with his mother, his mother’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s daughter.
All of us grew up with some degree of dysfunction in our families – some more dysfunctional that others, but these adults are pretty bad. Duncan’s vacation house neighbor Susan, referring to how the parents act every summer when they get together, “It’s like Spring Break for adults.”
Once you get past the first part of the film with its cruel (the boyfriend played by Steve Carell), weak (the mother played by Toni Collette) and clueless/obnoxious (neighbor Allison Janney) adults, the movie focuses more on Duncan. He’s given a summer job at a rundown water park by the slacker, manager Owen (Sam Rockwell). Though Owen is probably the last person to mentor a kid, in an odd sort of way, that’s exactly what he does for Duncan. And in that mentoring as so often happens, Owen begins to see growth in his own life.
As much as I love the mentor/friendship between Duncan and Owen, the flawed characters caused me to look at my own life history. It’s been said, if you’re able to pass just half the dysfunction that was passed on to you, your kids will be ahead of the game.
My wife and I attempted to pass as little of our dysfunction as possible to our daughter. By the grace of God, we can see that she’s made such great choices in her life, she’s hardly maladjusted at all. We certainly can’t claim that much of the credit.
So, with great performances by an excellent cast, I hope you enjoy The Way Way Back as much as I did. It is a bit strange to see Steve Carell play such an off-putting character. But he pulls it off as does the entire cast. It’s a small film that’s really worth the effort to check out.
This is the inaugural movie review of what will be a monthly post. The movies I’ll choose each month will be films that I feel a personal connection with, to the story or characters. They’ll usually be films that, like this post, you may not have seen, classic’s you may have missed or maybe some I think are worth a second look. From “Classic Hollywood” black and white to the latest hits – Action/Adventure and Comedy, Coming of Age to Buddy Films, and like ‘The Way Way Back,’ they’ll be ones you’re glad you heard about – and don’t forget you heard about it here.