Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Summer Stop On The Way To Love (Movie Review: The Way Way Back)

"The Way Way Back" is one of those small gentle films that is very rarely done nowadays. It is sort of a coming-of-age film, but I consider it more coming half of age. It might even be called a summer-in-a-life film, but as it is, it's more half-a-summer. Even though it is set in present-day, it feels nostalgic, of a more innocent time. Written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (they won an Oscar for "The Descendants") it tells the story of fourteen year old Duncan, played with quiet intensity by Liam James, as he spends a summer in a Northeastern beach town, dragged by his mom (Toni Colette) and her new boyfriend (Steve Carell)  His indifference is exacerbated by the fact that his mother's boyfriend has labeled him a 3 out of 10. He finds solace and acceptance at the local water park, and in fact starts working there, aided by Owen, played by Sam Rockwell in a great performance. You can see the difference in tone when he is at home (dreary) vs when he frolics in the park (sunny) He finds himself among this group of seemingly misfits. But before he truly finds himself, issues surface. There's also a side storyline between him and the girl next door, played by Annasophia Robb. Robb plays the young Carrie Bradshaw in "The Carrie Diaries"  and in my mind I look at this a summer in Bradshaw's life. The movie's sweet tone never gets too saccharine, and there's a great mixture of sweet and sour here. These are real characters you will see, experience and almost smell. I was pleasantly surprised to see a robust mid-afternoon audience. Perhaps there is a hunger with a movie with beating hearts, after all.

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