Posted by: greercn | September 5, 2013

The Way Way Back

What does the annoying title mean? I have no idea. Anyone who actually gets what it refers to might enlighten me by leaving a comment.

Intuitively, it might mean that our 14-year-old hero is in the very back of the car? Heck, I am grasping at straws here.

Young Duncan (Liam James) is on holiday with his mother (Toni Collette) and her perfectly awful boyfriend (Steve Carell).

From the first scene, we’re rooting for Duncan to get one over on Trent (Carell).

Off they all go to Trent’s beach house, along with Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin channels “Mean Girls”).

There are various lovely anachronisms. None of these kids or adults has a phone or a computer. Duxbury and Marshfield, Massachusetts, USA look sufficiently like the 1970s that I wondered if I had missed a subtitle.

The music and settings are all from a gentler age.

Duncan meets up with Owen (Sam Rockwell) who runs Water Wizz, a swimming and slides theme park. It’s about 10 levels below anything Disney creates, as a pool environment.

San Rockwell’s gentle humour and Liam James’ gradual emerging from his shell are at the centre of the story. As the neighbours, Allison Janney, River Alexander and AnnaSophia Robb have moments of great joy and pathos.

It’s written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who have screamingly good moments in their acting roles as Roddy and Lewis. Maya Rudolph’s Caitlin is appealing too.

I am not a big “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Juno” fan and, indeed, those are hours spent in the cinema that I would like to have back.

But these guys did co-write “The Descendents” and I liked that a lot.

All in all, I was charmed and the Stratford East Picturehouse audience seemed to be concentrating, too.

It’s a wry script with plenty of physical movement and comments on the effects of divorce on children. All in all, I liked it more than I expected to and think Sam Rockwell is becoming a very fine actor who always lifts the lines he is given.

Amanda Peet is wasted in this and I was left wishing someone would write as good a part as Muriel in “Muriel’s Wedding” for Toni Collette.

It won’t stay in my memory. But I don’t want those 103 minutes back. All in all, it’s likeable but not really loveable.



  1. Nice review Greer. You want to hate it for being so damn safe and conventional, but you can’t help but fall for its charm. It’s in your blood.

  2. Thanks! It certainly charmed me and I really enjoyed Liam James and Sam Rockwell in those roles.

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