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REVIEW: The Way Way Back

REVIEW: The Way Way Back

An on-the-money funny  coming of ager set mostly in an amusement park much like the equally  enjoyable 2009 film “Adventureland” .

16 year old Liam James, who starred on the tv shows “Psych” and “The Killers”  easily holds his own as the awkward outcast against heavyweights Steve Carell , Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney,  Amanda Peet, Maya Rudolph , Annasophia  Robb  (as his next door love interest) and  Robb Corddry.

The laughs  don’t come from Steve Carell, who plays the jerk  boyfriend of mom Toni Collette. It’s Sam Rockwell who gets to have all the fun and the laughs, as the slacker manager of  a local waterpark. Rockwell is one  unappreciated actor!!

14 year old Duncan is forced to spend the summer with his divorced mom (Collette) and her grating boyfriend at the boyfriend’s  Massachusetts beach house. Duncan is miserable. He hates the boyfriend, misses his dad and is socially inept.  But he finds himself and his path , thanks to the always wisecracking amusement park manager Owen, who takes  the teen  under his wing.  Rockwell is a hoot. 

Allison Janney is perfect as their boozy , overbearing mom next door neighbor. But  it’s young Liam James who  makes this film work.  You FEEL his pain. He’s flawless.

This is a sweet, funny  perfect anecdote to the mindless summer actioners of late.  Writers and first time directors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (who also have winning, albeit small roles )  set an unpushy tone that makes this one  refreshingly authentic.  And it’s blessedly brief: an hour and a half long.

3-and-a-half stars


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