I think I mentioned here a few times before how much I like unpretentious and unassuming movies. While I also enjoy blockbusters, big explosions and completely unrealistic and grand love gestures, there’s just something that appeals to me about seeing movies that just leave that all aside in order to focus on its characters. As you’ve probably noticed if you read my posts here, I’m going through an indie movie phase, and I’ve been slowly working my way through my Netflix watch list. Today’s pick was “The Way, Way Back”, and I thought I’d do a quick review of it for you guys!
The movie follows Duncan (Liam James), a shy teenager who is dragged along to his mom’s boyfriend beach house for the summer. Duncan is constantly teased by his would-be step-father and finds it difficult to get along with other kids his age. When he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell), the two of them help each other mature and Duncan finally finds a place where he feels comfortable. The premise is really simple, and while it’s not the most original piece of fiction ever written, its simplicity is also the reason it works so well. The movie was written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who also wrote the screenplay of Oscar winning movie “The Descendants”. You may also know Jim Rash as one of the best characters that ever graced our screens, the Dean from “Community”.
This movie has a strong cast, with names like Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph and Allison Janney and I have to say I’m always amazed and confused when Carell plays a character that’s so different from what I know him for, and I like being reminded that aside from being extremely funny, he is also a great actor. Here, he plays the douchebag boyfriend who taunts the main character and drives him forward, and I was annoyed by him for the entirety of the movie’s 100 minutes, which makes me believe that he did a good job. The whole plot between Duncan’s mom and her boyfriend were, in my opinion, the weak point about this movie. I would have liked to see more of Duncan’s time in the water park he gets a job at, as the characters and situations that environment are much more interesting for me than the adults on spring break we get on the other side.
I really enjoy movies that talk about the American summer and summer jobs, “Adventureland” being one that comes to mind. Maybe it’s because here in Brazil it’s relatively warm all year long and we don’t have extremely low temperatures so we don’t feel the need to celebrate the summer, or the fact that the culture of summer jobs simply doesn’t exist, but I always feel drawn to movies with this theme. “The Way, Way Back” explores that in a very nice way, while being a fun movie that doesn’t try to be overly smart or convey any great messages, but does its job of getting the audience entertained and connected to the story for the duration of it. I was really fond of the main character, maybe because I could relate to so many of the situations in which he found himself. Being able to relate to a character, I think, is one of the main ways in which a movie can connect to its audience, and this is something I think this one does really well.
Like I said before, it doesn’t take much to make me like a movie, but I thought this one was a particularly well-rounded movie in this genre, which managed to be funny while also having an emotional and dramatic side. Both the actors and the writers did a really good job in maintaining it subtle, but still bringing some heartfelt moments that worked really nicely. Have you seen “The Way, Way Back”? What did you think of it?
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