A heartfelt, hilarious, and original “coming-of-age” story that enchants throughout.
“The Way Way Back” may seem like a familiar tale– an awkward teen struggles to find his independence as he transitions from boy to man— but the seemingly simplistic story carries with it a depth and poignancy that’s easily relatable (and truly delightful to see unfold).
Sam Rockwell may be the best part of the film, giving his best performance to date. Everyone else is at their best too, bringing life to this clever, funny, nostalgic, and heartfelt summer movie. Directors/Writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (straight off of their Academy Award win for “The Descendants”) have crafted an all new delightful story full of humor, heart, and lovable characters.
The only complaint I may have is the film’s star, Liam James. He does well in the role of the awkward young hero, but he’s just not at the same level as all the other incredible actors around him. But I guess that’s not all the 14-year old’s fault. If you’re a fan of free-spirited and even-handed indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and Garden State, The Way Way Back will fill you with delight and make you look back on all those teenage summers with fondness.
+ well-written characters
+ multiple laugh-out-loud scenes
+ perfect ensemble cast
+ avoids typical “coming-of-age” movie cliches
+ story never feels forced
– Liam James not on par with the other actors
“The Way Way Back” may not be perfect, but it’s a genuinely funny and heartfelt movie, the kind that don’t come around often. It’s one of those movies I could honestly see myself watching over and over again. It may not be the most original movie you’ll see in the theater, but it accomplished what few movies seem to be able to these days: it filled me with pure joy.
“The Way, Way Back” is rated PG-13 for language, and brief sexual references. There is also talk of, and scenes involving, drugs.
© Matt Tory, 2013.
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