20th Sep2013

‘The Way Way Back’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander, Zoe Levin, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Adam Riegler | Written and Directed by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash


Written and directed by the team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who also wrote the screenplay to The Descendants, as a team) this film is one of those that only come around every so often, and when it does it feels special.

The Way Way Back is hard to explain because of its simplicity. It’s difficult to do the film justice by merely outlining the plot to someone who hasn’t seen it yet. It’s a coming of age story of a teenage boy during a summer break. He has to deal with his own personal changes, as well as his mothers’ passive aggressive boyfriend and his spoilt daughter, among other things. It is a story that has been, in many ways, told before yet it still feels fresh and is pure entertainment and heart-warming throughout.

Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who also co-star in the film, have written and directed a film that is 103 minutes long but feels more like an hour. The time passed quickly in the cinema as I sat and watched a film that doesn’t have special effects, controversial themes or anything other than great writing and top notch performances.

Steve Carell is the most well known name in the bunch, and he is an actor we are used to seeing play the fun loving, warm and silly characters, but here is plays against type and is excellent. A tremendous performance from Carell stands alongside brilliant work from Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell and the main kid in the story Liam James. Each and every performance in the film stands out and doesn’t feel forced or unrealistic.

I was surprised at how subtle the film was, it tells a tale that many of us can relate to, whether we relate to the anxious and awkward teenager or the other people in the story is subjective but it makes for a fun time. Another thing I noticed about The Way Way Back is how it is very much ignoring the time period. If it weren’t for the rare view of a cell phone, you’d struggle to know if this film was set in the 80’s, the 90’s or current day. That’s cool.

There is very little I would complain about when it comes to this movie. Maybe the very end of the film, which I wont go into, I would have tweaked a little but, but that’s personal preference and in no way a slight to the picture itself.

In a year filled with massive blockbuster action films stacked to the roof with special effects, explosions and sequences worth millions of dollars, it’s nice to see things dialled back and taken to a more real place, with purity of story being the focus. I recommend this highly, especially to fans of coming of age tales such as Stand by Me and Mud.

The Way Way Back is cinemas across the UK now.

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