The Way, Way Back

Sam Rockwell has done so much with so little for so long, we now expect him to do everything with nothing. This time however, he actually has something to work with! My thanks to writers/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Oscar for "The Descendants" script) who also doubled up as actors; they both had bit parts in this terrific film which won the Audience Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

We see a teenage boy who is bullied in a subtle but humiliating way by his mother's new boyfriend. Due to his age, he has no recourse but to bite the bullet and accept the bullying; his mother is too infatuated with the guy to realize what is happening. They go to the boyfriend's vacation cottage at the seashore for the summer. This story is about that summer, the neighbors, a water park, and how they all fit together.

We watch:
  • Sam Rockwell ("Moon," "Midsummer Night's Dream," and "Seven Psychopaths") is Owen, an employee at a local water park. He befriends our sad teenager and in a roundabout way, offers him coping lessons. I LOVE this guy!
  • Liam James (Lots of TV) is Duncan, our misbegotten hero. We cringe when we see how he is treated and are with him all the way as he starts to assemble the man he will become.
  • Toni Collette ("About a Boy") is Pam, the lonely mother who thinks she might have found the man of her dreams. Collette can play any type, any nationality and any genre. She's amazing!
  • Steve Carell ("Date Night") is Trent, a single dad who is delighted he has found a woman looking to create a whole new family. Carell has played victims of bullying so often he certainly knows how to play a bully! Trent's technique is extremely effective because it is so understated.
  • Allison Janney ("The Help") is Betty, Trent's sister who lives next door; she seems to start off each day with alcohol! If Rockwell hadn't been in this one, she would have stolen it hands down!
  • AnnaSophia Robb ("Race to Witch Mountan") is Susanna, the pretty teenager who lives next door; her mom is a drunk, her brother has a lazy eye, and her dad has found the man of his dreams. All in all, she's pretty happy!
We saw this in a theater that offers Closed Captions, so opted for the feature, but discovered we didn't need it at all. The soundtrack is crystal clear, the diction is perfect and every speech was articulated.

In this warm and wonderful PG-13 dramedy, we saw no sweaty bodies, watched no vehicular mayhem, heard no gunshots or blowie uppie stuff. I DID appreciate the great background music that was appropriate for each phase of this satisfying film; I loved the last vocal trio by Edie Brickell and the Gaddabouts.
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Take a look and see what you think:
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