The Way, Way Back

July 8th, 2013


The Way, Way Back

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Over the course of his summer break, a teenager comes into his own thanks in part to the friendship he strikes up with one of the park's managers.

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 7.4/10 (888 voted)

Director: Nat Faxon

Over the course of his summer break, a teenager comes into his own thanks in part to the friendship he strikes up with one of the park's managers.

Writers: ,


Official Website: Official Facebook

Release Date:

Filming Locations: Onset, Massachusetts, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $4,600,000 (estimated)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Jake Gyllenhaal was considered for the lead role but he dropped out. See more »

The conversation Owen and Duncan have about what initials to enter for the high score on the Pacman arcade game could never happen in real life as Pacman does not allow for initials to be entered for high scores. See more »

User Review


Rating: 8/10

*Spoilers* *Spoilers* I just watched this film last night at Sundance, and it's great! Hopefully it doesn't take too long for the film to be distributed, as I read that the film was purchased by Fox Searchlight for nearly 10 million. It reminded me a lot of "Adventureland" in its tone and feel, but it's a little more family-friendly, and it definitely is a PG-13 movie for those that were wondering.

The film focuses on Liam James character Duncan, a quiet, anti-social teen dealing with the recent divorce of his parents. His father has since relocated to San Diego with a younger girlfriend, and despite his desire to stay with his father for the summer, he ends up having to go with his mom and her boyfriend to spend the summer at her boyfriend's beach house. You come to understand that Duncan's mom Pam (Toni Collette) is aware of her boyfriend Trent's (Steve Carrell) wandering eye, but she is enamored by his charm, and maybe more so by the need for companionship and security. Duncan makes no effort to hide his disdain for Trent, who belittles his social skills, and later in the film goes so far as to tell him he is unwanted by his own father. Trent chastises Duncan about building mutual respect and trust, and yet he is banging his best friend's wife Joan (Amanda Peet),a fellow summer home yuppie. You later find out through dialog between Joan and Trent, that their little trysts seem to be a regular summer tradition.

Duncan is looking for any way out of the situation, or at least how he can spend as much time as possible away from Trent, Trent's own teenage daughter, and their friends. He sparks up a nice friendship with Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), a teenage girl mature beyond her years, who has grown tired of Trent's daughter and the other arrogant, shallow teenagers she is forced to hang out with at the beach all summer. She gets Duncan to open up to her a little bit, and acts as a channel of relief for Duncan away from the people he despises.

The real magic within the film is the relationship between Duncan and Owen (Sam Rockwell),a middle-aged operator of a water park within the resort town, who also comes from a troubled past and a strained relationship with his own father. Owen uses his humor and confidence to try and instill the same in Duncan, and provides Duncan with not just a summer job to get him away from the beach house, but also an environment where he can learn to be outgoing and build a number of friendships. Owen knows that Duncan has trouble at home, but is careful not to pry too much, until he can see that Duncan really needs someone he can open up to. The three quirky water park employees aside from Owen that the movie focuses on are played by Maya Rudolph, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash.

I knew it was a drama with some comedic elements, but the interesting thing about this film, is that you would assume some of the funnier moments would come from the likes of Steve Carrell and Maya Rudolph. They, however, bring more of the dramatic elements to the film, with Steve Carrell playing the dirt bag boyfriend of Toni Collette, and Maya Rudolph (Caitlyn) a water park employee who is facing a mid-life crisis of sorts. She had planned on working at the water park for one summer, but is now in her fourth year there, and is starting to second guess herself and the time she has invested in the park.

Caitlyn is continually frustrated by the park manager's lackadaisical attitude and laid-back nature, but like many of the longtime employees there, she is continually drawn back by the prevalent family culture and the friendships she has formed while working at the park. The water park operator is played with charm, wit, and panache by Sam Rockwell, who has long been one of my favorite actors, and provides many of the funny and heart-wrenching moments of the film.

Most of the other big laughs come from Betty (Allison Janney), who is the slightly eccentric and sexually-repressed neighbor of Steve Carrell's character. She has a socially deprived son with a lazy eye named Peter (River Alexander), and the relationship between Betty and Peter provide some of the lighter moments in the film. There are also a couple of great moments when Duncan takes Peter to the water park to meet his co-workers, and helps Peter gain some new found confidence of his own.

I'll leave the ending out of my review, but I think you will find it heartfelt and satisfying to say the least. This film is highly recommended.


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