I didn’t know what the term “way way back” meant until after the movie ended and Sandra told me. The title refers to the far back seat in an old station wagon. Not the back, not the way back, but the way way back– the butt of the car.
This is where we meet our protagonist, Duncan, as the movie opens.
He certainly seems to be in the way way back of his “family,” the last person to be considered. The movie follows his perspective on a summer trip to his mom’s boyfriend’s beach house. His mom, Pam, is played by Toni Collette, and her boyfriend, Trent, is Steve Carell. Both actors are playing against type– Carell is unlikable, bordering on evil, and Collette’s character is weak and lost, unsure of herself or how to take care of her 14-year-old son. The entire cast is strong, playful and enjoyable–an all-star line-up (including the directors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon in delightful cameos). My favorite character, however, may be Allison Janney as their next door neighbor. She barrels into her first scene and steals the show. I laughed at almost every line she says.
Duncan finds solace from the dysfunction at home in an unlikely place: Water Wizz, a local water park, where he meets Owen. Played charmingly and lovingly by Sam Rockwell, Owen seems like the father-figure/older brother that Duncan so desperately needs.
The Way Way Back is a fun summer movie. It is full of the complexities of being human and desiring love, reminding us what it’s like to be fourteen and finding ourselves, while realizing that adults don’t always know the answers.
The Way Way Back is playing at Images Cinema Friday 8/2 – Thursday 8/15 (two weeks). For more info and showtimes, please visit our website http://www.imagescinema.org