The Way Way Back


Oscar-winning screenwriters and first-time directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) have crafted a sparkling gem of a movie in The Way Way Back, a charming and hilarious film that follows a morose 14-year old named Duncan (a wonderful Liam James) who is suffering through the indignity of watching his divorced mother (Toni Collette) be courted by a raging asshole (Steve Carell) during a stay at his home in a dingy summer vacation town. While there, Duncan, a Cinderfella who has been labeled by his mother's boyfriend as a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, meets a kindred spirit in the form of the doe-eyed older girl next door (AnnaSophia Robb), her oversexed and over-tanned mother (the brilliant Allison Janney) and, most fortunately for the boy, a rambling, marauder of sardonic wit named Owen (the ever-reliable Sam Rockwell), who runs the area water park. Sensing the kid's pain, Owen hires Duncan to do odd jobs and for a few weeks one hot summer changes his life. The movie is brimming with sharp observations and tender resonant moments that offer lessons about our responsibility for our own happiness. Marvelous and highly recommended.

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