Monday evening I saw an advance screening of The Way, Way Back (coming out this Friday), and I really enjoyed it. The movie is about an awkward 14 year old named Duncan (Liam James) who is forced to go live for the summer with his mother Pam (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) at Trent’s summer home. Shy, quiet, and wanting nothing to do with his family, Duncan ventures out into town and where he crosses paths with Owen (Sam Rockwell), who takes a liking to him, and gives him a job at the local water park. Awkwardness, hilarity and general sweet moments occur throughout the movie as Owen helps Duncan become more confident, which spills into the drama of his home life.
Sam Rockwell absolutely steals the show in this movie. A perfect blend of sarcasm, pretending he doesn’t care when he truly does really give the movie a great blend of humor and heart. As a life-long introvert and geek, it was easy to relate to Liam James as Duncan through his struggle to gain confidence, and the embarrassing disasters required to get him there. It was very refreshing to see Steve Carell play an unlikable character. After seeing him for so many years as Michael Scott on the office, then in a number of movies where he also played the clueless funny guy, he truly showed he has range, and can play a convincing jerk. The ensemble that makes out the rest of the cast all put in solid performances as well(including Allison Janney as the drunk obnoxious neighbor, AnnaSophia Robb as Duncan’s neighbor/love interest Susanna, Maya Rudolph as Caitlyn, the manager of the water park, and Jim Rash as Lewis, a disgruntled employee who has clearly been at the water park for way too long).
If you enjoy sarcasm, awkward humor, and have ever felt out of place in your own skin, I think you’ll relate to and enjoy this movie. I give it a solid B.