Ryan's Review: The Way Way Back.
The Way, Way Back tells us the story of Duncan (Liam James), an awkward teenager who undergoes a transformation over one summer, becoming comfortable with himself and how the world works. Throughout the summer, his relationship with with his mother (Toni Collette), and her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carell) change as Duncan comes out of his shell, and he connects with Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of Water Wizz, the water park near when Duncan is vacationing.
Is the plot completely original?
No. We've seen the "summer that changed my adolescent life" movies a thousand times.
You put a boy in a new environment, allow him to find a place where he feels comfortable enough to come out of his shell, and watch how he grows.
From Meatballs to Superbad, we've seen the magic of what happens to teenagers during the summer a million times.
Having said that...
My seemingly never-ending list of Pros.
I loved this movie.
Loved it, loved it, loved it.
It's true, in your lifetime you may see a thousand movies with this plot, I've never seen one quite as good as The Way, Way Back.
Where to begin... That's a tough question.
The acting is phenomenal. I can't think of any character that wasn't acted out perfectly.
Liam James is so incredibly awkward that you begin to sympathize with his character from the very first scene, and never stop.
Steve Carell plays "the evil stepfather" so well in this movie that I almost hate him in real life. He easily pulls off this tone of entitled arrogance, and shows a side of himself that makes you forget about how funny he is in almost everything else.
Allison Janney steals every scene with her performance as the drunk and self-absorbed Betty, the woman who is renting the beach house next door. Her character is so wildly entertaining that you feel uncomfortable for the other characters in the scene.
But the performance that sold The Way, Way Back for me was Sam Rockwell's "Owen".
Rockwell manages to portray a snarky and carefree character one minute, as he takes young Duncan under his wing, and simultaneously hint at a more sad and emotionally burdened character.
It's all too much for me to explain really. It's quirky, it's bittersweet, it's heartwarming, and it's a must see for everyone who ever felt like they just didn't fit in.