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The Way Way Back (2013)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 170
Fresh: 144 | Rotten: 26

Despite its familiar themes, The Way Way Back makes use of its talented cast, finely tuned script, and an abundance of charm to deliver a funny and satisfying coming-of-age story.


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 36 | Rotten: 7

Despite its familiar themes, The Way Way Back makes use of its talented cast, finely tuned script, and an abundance of charm to deliver a funny and satisfying coming-of-age story.



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 52,584

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Movie Info

THE WAY, WAY BACK is the funny and poignant coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan's (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally


Drama, Comedy


Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Oct 22, 2013


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All Critics (171) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (144) | Rotten (26) | DVD (2)

The film has been complacently concocted for likability even as it gives you very little that's real, structured, or spontaneous enough to enjoy.

January 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Grantland
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nice comedic work from Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney buoys this pleasant but routine coming-of-age drama by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.

September 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This film's masterstroke is showing everything from Duncan's point of view, without the traditional cloying narration.

August 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An unexpected yet irresistible cross between Meatballs and The Ice Storm, The Way Way Back just may be the best movie of the summer.

July 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Atlantic
The Atlantic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The coming-of-age tale The Way, Way Back is sweet, heartfelt and utterly trite and predictable from beginning to end.

July 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Aiming for a middle path between drama and comedy, "The Way Way Back" is so overloaded with jokes that it could sink in the water hazard, but on the final scorecard, sure enough, it's in the hole.

July 18, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An astoundingly sweet, lovable, immensely enjoyable little film that hits all the right notes as you're watching it thanks to its excellent cast.

February 20, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

The story has some of the lighthearted fun a boy should have working for a fun-loving boss and enjoying the company of a hot girlfriend, but he should be having a lot more fun than this.

December 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

This coming-of-age comedy/drama rings emotionally false during many of its jacked-up, stacked-deck emotional confrontations and mistakes obnoxiousness for personality in almost every adult character.

November 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

If you're first act was writing the Oscar winning screenplay for "The Descendants," looking for an encore can be tough. But Nat Faxon and Jim Rash leveraged that win and made the leap to directing their own small-budget, bighearted coming of age comedy.

November 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Yahoo! Movies
Yahoo! Movies

"The Way Way Back" is a sharply written comedy that's full of wise and wise-guy moments.

October 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

The Way Way Back is a real crowd-pleasing charmer that breaks free of its familiar trappings with consistent humor and personal touches.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source:

Funny, touching and irresistibly charming, The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age comedy that gets the pains and joys and, above all, awkwardness of adolescence spot on.

September 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

More charm and original laughs than most recent coming-of-age films...overcomes its contrived formula (dysfunctional adults, kids as victims) aided greatly by Rockwell.

September 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Not a subtle film, but honest, intelligent and very funny.

September 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The most inspiring example of how to nurture confident responsibility in the young since Clint Eastwood's seminal Gran Torino (2009).

August 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Birmingham Mail
Birmingham Mail

Sam Rockwell makes the biggest splash with a sizzling supporting performance. Not only is he naturally funny, but he has the great ability to make every sharp line of dialogue sound freshly improvised.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: UTV

Collette and Carell endow their characters with poignancy and authenticity, while Rockwell and Janney are superb at wringing every possible bit of humour out of the sparky dialogue.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

The story manages to be both very familiar and somehow not quite believable, in part because the characters feel contrived.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Never mind the text; feel the texture.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

For all the longueurs, there are still enough moments of near brilliance to sustain you through the trip.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

An especially strong script gives actors plenty to chew on in this comedy-drama, in which writer-directors Faxon and Rash (The Descendants) take an observant look at the awkward connections we make with each other.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source:

Warm, funny - and even fresh.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Though not quite as enjoyable as Adventureland, The Way, Way Back is a likeable, Sundance-flavoured charmer. The central character is arguably too wallflower-y for his own good, but Rockwell is absolutely ace.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Flix Capacitor
Flix Capacitor

Audience Reviews for The Way Way Back

Didn't expect a movie where Steve Carell plays the asshole
August 14, 2014

Super Reviewer

A likeable enough coming of age story concerning an insecure, troubled teenager (Liam James) who is forced to go to his mother's boyfriend's (Steve Carell) beach house with them for the summer despite wanting to be with his real father. Once there, he stumbles into a summer job at a local water park, and makes friends with a 40's something staff member (Sam Rockwell) still attempting to live in his early days, and strikes up a potential romantic relationship with the cute girl next door (Annasophia Robb). While it is largely predictable and it has some moments of being absolutely corny, including the finale at the water park, it is still likable enough. It is an average movie with great performances, especially Rockwell, and it definitely has its heart in the right place. Not an outstanding movie by any stretch of the imagination, but far from bad.
August 7, 2014
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

I hate the phrase 'Coming of age' and I'm a firm believer that not all comedies need a moral message and 'Coming of age' films could do with focusing on normal kids for a change. I admit, I didn't think comedy pair Nat Faxon and Jim Rash were up to the job. I was wrong and I'm ashamed of myself. This is one of my favorite 'Coming of age' films of all time. It's nice to see a film were the parents aren't unbelievable, two-dimensional characters and whereby the child in question isn't secretly special in anyway. The cast is great, Toni Collette is good in everything and Sam Rockwell couldn't be cooler. It's very nice to see Steve Carell in a straight role for a change too, hopefully we see more of this from him and less of his Brick Tamland character. One of the more uplifting films of 2013.
July 25, 2014

Super Reviewer

A warm and poignant film about adolescence and the pains of growing, offered through an insightful glass. With most credit going to the superb Sam Rockwell, The Way Way Back is a funny film set in the nostalgic point in our lives, a story about that one summer when we were younger that for reasons perhaps both good and bad, was memorable.
June 7, 2014
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

    1. Susanna: That's the power of this place. It's like spring break for adults.
    – Submitted by Frances H (3 months ago)
    1. Owen: I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. You're having way too much fun, it's making everyone uncomfortable.
    – Submitted by Mike P (10 months ago)
    1. Owen: Don't die wondering.
    – Submitted by Tomas K (10 months ago)
    1. Owen: Good, always take things literally. How's that working out for you, does that get you laid?
    – Submitted by Omar R (11 months ago)
    1. Betty: Where is your eye-patch?
    – Submitted by Bryan B (13 months ago)
    1. Betty: She called me a C U Next Tuesday! To my face! Can you believe that?
    – Submitted by Moe J (14 months ago)
View all quotes (6)

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