The Way, Way Back: Step to the Front—Movie

Sometimes low-key fun is just what the doctor ordered. Such is the case with “The Way, Way Back.”Way Way Back

Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, “The Way, Way Back” is the coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) and, to some extent, his mother, Pam, played by Toni Collette.

Duncan and his mother are spending the summer with her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin), at Trent’s beachouse in New York. About one minute into the movie, we realize that Trent is the potential stepfather from hell. Full of rules for everyone but himself, it is readily apparent that he’s a brutish phony. Luckily Duncan finds refuge in the company of Owen (Sam Rockwell) and his merry band of co-workers at the Water Wizz water park. Perhaps Owen sees a kindred spirit in the younger Duncan, and in a big brother way, takes Duncan under his wing and teaches him about the kindness of the world and in so doing, provides Duncan with the summer of his life.

“The Way, Way Back” has a top-notch cast. Liam James (most recently seen as Jack Linden in “The Killing”) is absolutely perfect as the shy, unsure Duncan. Toni Collette shows, without saying a word, how terrified she is of being alone. We’re used to seeing Sam Rockwell in dopey, clownish roles, but his portrayal of Owen on the cusp of breaking out of his Peter Pan mentality is something different for him and he is terrific. Finally there is Steve Carell’s Trent. Carell does a fantastic job at making us loathe him for the entire movie.

The supporting cast is fabulous. Allison Janney, as the nosey neighbor from hell, but with a heart of gold, is terrific. In an understated performance, AnnaSophia Robb’s Susanna is spot on as the slightly older teen who catches Duncan’s eye. Maya Rudolph as Caitlin, Owen’s boss with benefits, is really good at showing how hard it is to be in love with someone who has not yet quite grown up.  Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have written great parts for themselves as Owen’s co-workers and friends.

“The Way, Way Back” proves that you don’t have to have a summer film full of noise and special effects in order to give the audience a fun day at the movies. It’s rare, but most welcome.

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

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2 Responses to “The Way, Way Back: Step to the Front—Movie”

  1. CHECK MY REFERENCE Says:

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    Like

    • Joan Fuchsman Says:

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      Like

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