The Way Way Back Review

Coming-of-age films always aim to leave a mark on the hearts of movie-goers, but can The Way Way Back (12A) do the same? Oscar-winning writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash give it a shot with the help of actors Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell.

What’s it about? The Way Way Back introduces us to young loner Duncan (Liam James) who’s forced to spend his summer holiday THE WAY, WAY BACKat a beach house with his mum (Toni Collette) and her obnoxious new boyfriend (Steve Carell).

Duncan would give anything to be with his father and prepares for a summer of sheer hell, but things start to look up when he stumbles upon a wacky water park in the area.

Verdict: The directorial debut of the writers behind The Descendants, The Way Way Back is a really enjoyable watch.

Key to the film’s success is the terrific casting. Liam James is the perfect Duncan! You truly believe he’s a 14-year-old going through adolescence whilst struggling with the aftermath of his parents’ divorce. And who wouldn’t struggle if your mum ended up with a passive-aggressive boyfriend who made it pretty clear he didn’t like you?

Famed for his comedic skills, Steve Carell is great here playing an utter ‘douchebag’ and bully, a role that gives him the chance to really show off his range and acting prowess.

But Sam Rockwell is the real star as the laid-back water park owner who is every teen boys’ dream mate, even if he is a bit of a nightmare for his poor employees.

And it’s in the water park that we see Duncan experience moments that bring him out of his shell. These scenes are entertaining, adorable and produce some of the best water slide moments I’ve seen on film. Plus, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash make great cameos as water park employees!


As for the film’s actresses, Allison Janney is a hoot as the drunken neighbour who just loves to invite herself to everything; while Toni Collette perfectly embodies the newly-divorced woman who just doesn’t know how to handle this second stab at love.

Young AnnaSophia Robb is perfect as the sarky girl-next-door who’s clearly outgrowing her friends but is unsure how to break free from traditions; while Maya Rudolph doesn’t manage to make a real impression in her limited role.

The story ends as you would predict, but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.


Final Words: If you’re a fan of The Descendants then you’ll love this endearing coming-of-age tale which takes the classic story of adolescent angst and makes it feel fresh again.

Rating: 4 / 5      

The Way Way Back is in UK cinemas on 28 August 2013