“The Way Way Back” is way way good.

The Way Way BackI keep making references to my Summer’s Most Anticipated List that is saturated with epic action movies. When you think of a summer movie, it is the star-studded action sequel or franchise that may come to mind.  Not many small films made the list for one reason or the other. So an unexpected small drama that isn’t based on any other source material acts a deep breath of air.

The Way Way Back is that little indie film that makes you laugh, gasp and cry all while balancing a full-hearted drama that anyone who felt out of place, lonely and awkward. Written and directed by the screenwriters of The Descendants, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, we follow Duncan (Liam James), a shy black sheep who gets wrapped up in a summer escape to his mom’s (Toni Collette) boyfriend’s (Steve Carrell)  summer house. There, Duncan feels uncomfortable with all his surroundings. He feels like burden to everyone around him until he finds his way to a water park where he is befriended by a magnetically charismatic worker at the park, Owen (Sam Rockwell). In between the oppressive environment of his family and the freeing space of the water park, Duncan gains confidence all while slowly finding out that his mother’s boyfriend isn’t as faithful as he should be.

As we follow Duncan, it isn’t hard to put yourself in his shoes. Everyone in their life has probably felt lonely, insecure, shy or unwanted. The adults around him aren’t necessarily acting like adults as they constantly get drunk and stupid and uncaring, Duncan finds his own way to fill that void. It would have been easy for him to continue being that recluse, but he comes to his own by going out of his comfort zone on many occasions. When he makes these decisions we are forced to giggle and tear for him as we have had similar experiences in our own past.

When reflecting on this movie, I struggle to find the strong suit of the movie as a whole because there are so many to choose from. The acting is spot on, subtle hints from the actors are real indicators of the characters who they are portraying. Everyone seemed real whether they are ridiculous like Sam Rockwell or Allison Janney’s characters or warm and welcoming like May Rudolph and AnnaSophie Robb’s. The cinematography wasn’t anything to write home about, nor was it supposed to. I think the strongest part of the movie was the writing. Without that cohesive and that slow unraveling of events, the hard-hitting drama wouldn’t have held under its own weight. The real standout of the cast had to be Sam Rockwell, at times your gut is busting from his personality, but other times you can feel his tender heart and concern for Duncan through the screen.

When my wife and I walked out of the theater, we didn’t feel empty or unfulfilled. He knew that we experienced and learned something from what we saw. Unlike most of the other money-grabbing movies we have seen, The Way Way Back is thoughtful, hearfelt and full of life.

Verdict: It’s not a movie that you need to see in theaters to enjoy fully, but it’s a movie you need to see. GO.

Summer’s Best of List (So far)1) Star Trek: Into Darkness

2) Pacific Rim

3) Iron Man 3

4) The Way Way Back

5) Man of Steel

6) Monsters University

7) The Wolverine

8) Now You See Me

9) After Earth

10) This Is The End

11) Only God Forgives

12) The Great Gatsby

13) World War Z

14) The Lone Ranger

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