The Way, Way Back Review
by Nick Casaletto
Coming of age films are a genre that are as old as time. They are some of the greatest films ever put on the screen, such as The Breakfast Club, Stand by me, and most recently, a film that I truly adored, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
These are the kinds of films that grasp my attention the most. They capture me and take my mind to such a positive, welcoming atmosphere. They make me feel welcome, comfortable, and most importantly, they make me feel emotionally connected to characters I’d never think I’d have a care in the world for. The Way, Way Back is this year’s coming of age story that will have you in tears from both laughter and drama. The genres blend beautifully and the characters themselves will stay attached to your heart almost the entire way through.
The Way, Way Back puts the focus on fourteen year old Duncan, a socially-awkward teenager who lives with his divorced mother and her jerk off boyfriend, and his teenage daughter, a typical “mean girl”. The dysfunctional family set off to a summer home on a beach in a beautiful Massachusetts town. Duncan, who clearly has hatred toward his mother’s boyfriend, sets off across town and finds himself at a small water-park, where he bonds with the manager and experiences the father/son experiences he never had the chance to have.
It’s not just the perfect writing, it’s the actors playing these characters. They take their scripts and they become their characters so well. Sam Rockwell gives one of the best performances of his career to date. His chemistry with Duncan is truly genuine. The two play off each other throughout the entire film, and it’ll keep a large smile on your face from start to finish. Steve Carell steps outside his comfort zone and pulls off something that I’d never expect from him; playing a character meant to be hated and allow for the character to actually be hated. Carell is just an all-around likeable guy, so his performance playing the character so vile and cold was definitely a nice change of pace.
Liam James, who plays Duncan, starts off almost unbearable. He doesn’t talk, he mumbles, and he’s clearly miserable all the time. But this is how the character was intended to be played. As the film processes, Duncan starts to change as a character and becomes more comfortable with who he is. James, who I hadn’t heard of before this film, really took on the character with mighty force. His performance most likely won’t be praised or looked at with too much of a scope, but I hope Hollywood recognizes him for his talent, I would truly love to see him in more projects. His true and raw emotion, really captured me into the film and was a truly great presence on the screen,.
Packed with a lot of heart, humor, and flawless writing, The Way, Way Back is a wonderful social-experiment shot beautifully where it plays around with different characters, all with different problems, but in the same setting, all connecting at the same time. Duncan’s summer is surely one to remember. Coming of age films like this aren’t just a summer fling for me, these are movies I like to remember because they carry moments that almost dig a special place in my heart. Films like The Way, Way Back are the reasons why I love movies so much. I promise you, this movie will capture your heart and run its emotions all to the way, way end.