I really do like the types of drama/comedy films that make you feel like you just spent time with other families/individuals. Movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone, Liberty Heights or Outside Providence. The type with characters you can relate to that have relatives just like your relatives. They are going through problems you have gone through and you feel their pain. The newest film I can put in my pantheon of these films is The Way Way Back.
Duncan (Liam James) is an awkward 14 year old who is forced into going on summer vacation at his Mom’s boyfriends beach house with them and the boyfriends’ teenage daughter. The boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell) is an abrasive, depreciating man whom Duncan cannot stand. Desperate to find an escape, Duncan befriends Owen (Sam Rockwell), the owner of a nearby water park. Soon Duncan is working at the park and finding his own identity outside of his uncomfortable family life and for the first time, feeling like he belongs.
The Way Way Back is one of those movies that I didn’t want to end. I wanted to follow Duncan through the next steps in his life and see where he ended up. It is warm, realistic, heartfelt and very funny. Liam James is excellent as Duncan. You would be hard pressed to find any viewer of the film that cannot identify with him on some level. And James plays it with a genuine awkwardness but also with a great deal of humility and sensitivity. The rest of the supporting cast are all excellent including Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and Amanda Peet. But aside from James, the two big standouts here are Carell and Rockwell. Carell is playing totally against type and there is really nothing likable about him here. He is just a thoughtless bastard of a guy and everyone probably knows someone like him. Carell plays it very well which is impressive considering his inherent likability. And Sam Rockwell gives one of his best performances in years. The character of Owen is really a manchild who wants nothing to do with responsibility despite owning a business. But when he meets Duncan and takes him under his wing, they really have a lot to teach each other. Rockwell is hilarious here and has all the golden lines in the film. A great ensemble cast and a really great relatable story.
The Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is beautiful. The beach locations are lush and warm with bold colors and great clarity and detail. The soundtrack is full of great songs and the dialogue channel is crisp and clear. Another great transfer from Fox. The Way Way Back is a great little film that is worth taking the time to visit. Highly recommended.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.