Sleepers to See: Why 'The Way, Way Back' Is Way, Way Worthwhile

THE MOVIE: The Way, Way Back

THE DIRECTORS: The Academy Award-winning writing and directing team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants).

THE CAST: Newcomer Liam James (The Killing), Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Annasophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet.

 THE STORY: Forced to spend the summer with his mom (Collette) and her jerk  boyfriend (Carell), painfully introverted teen Duncan (James) just wants to get through the summer being left alone. Hanging out (by himself, of course) at the local water park, Duncan is befriended by gregarious park manager Owen (Rockwell). Recognizing Duncan’s misery, Owen offers him a summer job--and a life outside of the vacation hellhole he’s been sequestered to all summer. Given respect and responsibility for the first time in his life, Duncan begins to emerge from his shell surrounded by an oddball cast of hilarious characters.

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT: By far the wittiest and most fun coming-of-age film in a summer chock-full of coming-of-age films (The Kings of Summer, Monsters University), The Way, Way Back shines by using its all-star cast to full heartwarming and comedic effect; especially Rockwell, who makes the charmingly dysfunctional Owen a much-needed father figure to young Duncan. While Owen's certainly not perfect, he seems to be the most stable adult in Duncan's angst-ridden homelife (scary, but true). Anyone who has witnessed the difficulty of divorce, whether as an adult or child, will empathize with and cheer for Duncan as he grows into a confident young man. Supporting player Allison Janney delivers comedic gold as Duncan’s perpetually intoxicated neighbor at the shore, while Annasophia Robb is charming as Duncan’s confidante, and unbeknownst to her, love interest.

THE BUZZ: Jim Rash (whom you may recognize as Dean Pelton on the NBC sitcom Community) and Nat Faxon have been writing partners since meeting at the legendary Groundlings Theater, famous for churning out comedic talent. They wrote The Way, Way Back over a decade ago, and it landed on Hollywood’s “Black List” in 2007 (the fabled compendium of best unproduced screenplays). Since winning an Oscar for 2011’s The Descendants, the pair was able to finance their creative lovechild and bring it to the big screen.  

IF YOU'RE A FAN OF…:  Coming-of-age films in the vein of John Hughes, witty gems like Mean Girls, or family dramedies like Silver Linings Playbook, you’ll more than love The Way, Way Back.

The film opened in limited release last week and expands this week. Find out if The Way, Way Back is playing in a theater near you here.

RELATED:

'The Way, Way Back' Q&A: Sam Rockwell, the Guy Roger Ebert Once Called "The Go-to Guy for Weirdness"

'The Way, Way Back' Q&A: Allison Janney on Playing a Drunk Mom, and the One Question She Never Wants to Hear

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