I first saw the trailer for The Way, Way Back a couple of months ago. I knew right away that this would be one that I wanted to see. I mean, even if I knew nothing about the movie in advance, the cast would have me sold. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge Steve Carell fan. So, that alone made this one a no brainer. Although I truly did enjoy The Way, Way Back, it was not exactly in the way that I had anticipated I would.
In fact, the biggest surprise of this film, for me, was how much I didn’t like Carell’s character, Trent. Going in, I thought that Carell would be the one to carry the whole thing, but boy was I wrong. In fact, I think Trent could have been played by anyone really. The character was so flat that I just found myself basically blocking him out. Aside from some drama, he hardly contributes to the story, even though he is one of the more central characters. Although I was initially disappointed in this, the majority of the rest of the cast really picks up the dead weight.
Many of the performances were strong, but there is one actor who really stole the show. Sam Rockwell. Rockwell’s Owen absolutely kills it. He had me laughing throughout. Admittedly, some of his lines were a little cheesy, but overall I really dug him. As funny as Rockwell was in The Way, Way Back, it wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without Duncan (Liam James).
A quick read of the synopsis and you’ll know that the story really revolves around Duncan. Ultimately, it plays out as a “coming of age” story, but it’s important to not get too caught up in that. Sure, Duncan really finds himself with the help of these other characters (like Owen), but the real win here is that the film never takes itself too seriously. It is categorized as a comedy, but it’s really more than that. It walks the fine line between comedy and drama that many films simply cannot.
I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t many theaters playing The Way, Way Back around me. Regardless, I would absolutely encourage you to check it out. This one is well worth the price of admission. Outside of starting off just a tad slow, and how forgettable Carell’s character was, I can’t find many other flaws. Hell, I’d recommend seeing it just to see the relationship develop between Duncan and Owen.