A pleasant watch. Sometimes, we come across a film that hits home and reflects our own experiences perfectly…
Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.
The first thing I noticed about this movie, is its simplicity – its one of those films you can let wash over you, yet still absorb what it has to say. Easy-going and quite endearing, it delivers plenty of ‘LOL’ moments as the story follows Duncan, and his journey towards “being normal”.
The Way, Way Back is a 2-fingered salute to those who look down on people who are slightly different – what most would probably consider as ‘special’ – and our main character was nothing short of that. In fact, his odd characteristics (I.E. lack of social skills, inability to converse properly) are to be embraced, it makes him adorable. This is the classic underdog story – you know, like Glee (except those fuckers could actually sing, and judging by their over-confident idiotic antics, actually made them not so underdog at all. Attention seekers perhaps?)
As the movie continues, the comedy moments keep coming, and our main character begins to come out of his shell. I think the main element which holds everything together, is the way its so true to life; it has characters we can all relate to / may have met in our own lives, as well as scenarios which aren’t overly hilarious – but are entertaining nonetheless, because they mirror our own experiences.
Its not all comedy though – this movie blends the laughs with some good emotional scenes as the two parental figures hit a rocky road their relationship; nice to see Steve Carrell playing the ‘step-father tosser’ – a character quite different from his previous. And of course, we can’t forget brilliant Toni Collette who (as always) surfs through the script splendidly, knowing how and when to shine (I can’t help but think ‘Muriel’ when I look at her though. She really has got that whole sloppy crying thing nailed)
To sum up the atmosphere of this movie, I’d say: imagine when you were mid-teens. On holiday with the family – holiday homes and kids playing safely in the roads outside, the classic neighbour in the chalet next-door you’d befriend as a surrogate aunt / uncle, boat rides, campfire gatherings, the beach, water park – that overall feeling of everyone enjoying their time together, even though the holiday’s end looms closer.
Praise goes to Liam James (as Duncan) for his superb performance; just his facial expressions are hilarious, he totally nailed the gormless, rather subdued character which got (out loud) “oh, bless him” comments from me.
Allison Janney (American Beauty) also stars, and had the audience in bloody stitches. Her delivery of one-liner’s is to be applauded, and whenever the movie hit an emotional patch, in she came with hysterical force.
The Way, Way Back carries a naturally funny, emotional and honest uptake of family life. And its observant portrayal of people out there in the world who may be (as some people put it) ‘special’
A lovely scene in the final few moments; Toni basically performs an action in the car which although childlike, sums up the bond between mother & son perfectly.
Definitely worth a watch.