A couple of months ago fellow co-creator of State-Lines.com, Jarrett Haas, wrote an article highlighting the greatness that is the “coming-of-age” movie. Haas and I share many things in common, one being that we both have a thing for high school flicks. For me it’s not so much the high school aspect of it as it is the nostalgia. It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s something for all ages in these movies. Although the “coming-of-age” movie has been on a steady decline over the years, it seems that 2013 has been a year of “revampage” (best word I’ve ever made up) for the genre.
Enter The Way, Way Back; a new coming of age film brought to you by none other than Jim Rash (The Dean from Community) and Nat Faxon (you’ll know him when you see his picture). Getting right to the point, The Way, Way Back could be the best movie of the summer. Somehow balancing one of the heaviest topics of our generation with some of the top comedians of the past 10 years, TWWB is a movie to remember.
Steve Carrell has always been there to make us laugh. From roles in 40 Year Old Virgin to The Office, Carrell has held a special place in my heart as one of the funniest guys in the entertainment business. In TWWB, Carrell plays Trent, a mid-life single father dating the mother of main character Duncan. Carrell’s character will have you wanting to knock his teeth out within the first five minutes of the movie. Surprising to some, but Carrell plays the jerk, step-father type character very well.
The movie begins with a a heavy scene that immediately gives the title of the movie a meaning. Duncan (played by Liam James), a 14-year old shy and introspective teenager that looks like he’ll be stuck in his “awkward phase” forever, is starring out the back window of his car on the way to the beach for summer vacation. Trent (played by Carrell), who has been dating Duncan’s mom for just about a year, begins to ask Duncan questions about how he thinks of himself, eventually labeling Duncan as a “three out of ten”. This is the moment where you already want to punch Carrell and at the same time feel the need to reach out to Duncan. You immediately begin to have strong feelings for these characters. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie; you just know that this kid is in for a rough summer.
Although it starts off that way, Duncan begins to find an escape. As the movie goes on, it battles some tough issues that are becoming all too common in our society today. As Duncan’s summer goes on, you begin to get a sense that this is a kid beaten down. I can only imagine dealing with your parents divorce is hard enough, but having a man like Carrell’s character constantly calling you “Buddy” all the time would be enough to send any kid over the edge. One morning, Duncan stumbles upon an old pink beach cruiser in the beach house shed. After a few days of escaping from the house, Duncan finds Water Wizz, the local waterpark a few miles from the beach. While there, he befriends Owen (played by Sam Rockwell), owner and manager of Water Wizz.
In the beginning, Duncan is so beaten down that he has trouble understanding Owen’s subtle comic dialogue. Owen begins the movie with what seems to be a carefree, “live for the moment” type attitude that develops as the movie plays on. Backed by Rash and Faxon, Rockwell gives the movie a much needed and well-done comic relief. Owen, recognizing something in Duncan, takes Duncan under his wing, gives him a job and thus starts a strong bond between the two. What follow’s is a self-confidence breakthrough for Duncan, an escape from his broken home, and a new start to his life.
The Way, Way Back truly brings something special to this summer’s box office for people of all ages and I highly recommend you find it in a theater near you.
As a final side note, I also highly recommend you check out the movie’s soundtrack. Possibly overshadowed by the movie itself, the choice of music throughout the movie was stellar and I highly recommend it. Check it out on Spotify or iTunes.