THE WAY WAY BACK is a crowd pleasing coming-of-age movie about a fourteen year old boy who's forced to spend the summer at the beach house of his mother's obnoxious boyfriend. It's funny; it's touching; and it's got a terrific cast. In fact, THE WAY WAY BACK is the best movie I've seen this summer.
Trent: "Duncan, on a scale of one to ten, what do you think you are?
Duncan: A six.
Trent: I think you're a three.
That's Steve Carell as Trent talking to his girlfriend's son Duncan played by Liam James (of TV's "The Killing").
And that hurtful moment is based on the actual experience of one of the film's two writer-directors, the same two men who won an Oscar for writing THE DESCENDANTS with Alexander Payne.
Allison Janney is the alcoholic neighbor who doesn't help the boy's ego either. When she meets him for the first time, she says, "Who is this in all his awkward stage glory?"
And Duncan's mom, Pam, played by Toni Collette, is too occupied with her own insecurities to be of any help to him.
But Duncan finds an old bike and makes his way to a water park on the other side of town where he meets Sam Rockwell as the wise-cracking, irrepressible Owen, the park manager who offers him a job.
Duncan: Definitely. Awesome. Yeah, I mean if it's too much trouble you totally don't have to, but if you need someone….I mean...
Owen: There you go. Tomorrow. 9 am.
In a movie full of wonderful performances, Rockwell stands out.
Owen (handing Duncan a park T shirt): Suit up. You don't look too pumped. (starts singing and doing jumping jacks) C'mon, let's get pumped. this is the place where dreams are made or destroyed.
As the summer goes on, Duncan gradually emerges from his shell. But even as Duncan loosens up and begins to feel more comfortable in his own skin, his mother finds herself facing some tough situations with her boyfriend.
The trailer and the clips released for use on television don't do justice to the wonderful mix of humor, sweetness and drama that make THE WAY WAY BACK so satisfying.
It'll leave you with a smile on your face and a lump in your throat.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now firstname.lastname@example.org