The Grade Book: “The Way, Way Back”

The Way, Way Back

Plot: A shy teenager becomes friends with the manager of a water park during a summer vacation. 

Directors: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. 

Writers: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. 

Cast: Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, and AnnaSophia Robb. 

Genres: Comedy, Drama.

Running Time: 1 hour and 43 minutes.

U.S. Release Date: July 26th, 2013.

MPAA Rating: PG-13.




(Lowest Grade Given to the Film: B, Highest Grade Given to the Film: A+)

SUMMARY OF THOUGHTS: The Way, Way Back falls into familiar territory, but its charm and strong performances (especially Sam Rockwell) make it a winner.



  • Gabriel Alcantara (Big Gabe):

Grade: B

A really charming and enjoyable coming-of age flick with heart, a great tone, and fine direction, but with some flawed comedy. I give Sam Rockwell, who I am not a real big fan of, some credit for having loads of energy and wit, but most of his jokes fell flat for me. Also, the lead role, Duncan, I couldn’t fully relate to him. I get where he’s coming from but he is such a spaz in the beginning that I just wanted someone to smack him and man him up. Still, it’s a good film, but being that it came out the same year as the far superior film The Kings of Summer, I can’t bring myself to love it.

  • Nick Casaletto:

Grade: A

A terrific coming-of-age tale that features familiar themes but is executed in a dramatic and genuine way. Sam Rockwell is absolutely outstanding in his role, and Steve Carell breaks his type-casting nice guy act to play an antagonist we grow to hate. A story that you will make you hurt with laughter and will bring you to tears. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.

  • Ryan Fecskovics:

Grade: B

A very cute film, but it could have been better. Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney have great supporting performances in this film. Overall, I am a tad disappointed. Still, it’s a good film. Liam James was too wooden in his acting choices. I recommend it to anyone who wants something other than action films and animation.

  • Chad Gleason (MovieManCHAD):


Grade: B+

A great coming-of-age movie that I really related to!

  • Mike Holtz (WeWatchedAMovie):

Grade: A+

The first 10/10 of the year (and probably the only one) for me. My personal all-time favorite coming-of-age movie, because it’s realistic, heartfelt, and funny. Sam Rockwell’s character is someone you’ll wish you could have taken advice from during the awkward teenage years.

  • Zachary S. Marsh:

Grade: A+

The Way, Way Back is the type of movie that will just make you smile upon leaving the theater. The film is both emotional and hilarious, as well as relatable, which makes it one of the summer’s freshest and most likable movies. Definitely one of my favorites of 2013, and it’s definitely something people should seek out.

  • Matt Marshall:

Grade: A-

For those exhausted from superheroes and big noisy blockbusters, The Way, Way Back is straight-up the perfect ticket for a charming coming-of-age story that the whole family can truly appreciate. At the bare minimum, The Way, Way Back deserves recognition for its witty script and Sam Rockwell’s fantastic performance.

  • Delon Villanueva:

Grade: A-

Sure, it’s nothing totally new, but writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash deliver a whole lot of heart and way more comedy than you expect. It was really refreshing to see this very simple coming-of-age story (during this bloated summer season) that just wins you over with very relatable themes and lovable characters. The movie is worth it for Sam Rockwell alone. This movie isn’t life-changing, but it should feel like a very pleasant surprise to most audiences.

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