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The Way Way Back (2013)


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

Critics Consensus: 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

Critics Consensus: 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: 4/5
User Ratings: 52,674




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 … More

PG-13 (for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material)
Drama , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Nat Faxon , Jim Rash
In Theaters:
Oct 22, 2013
Box Office:
Fox Searchlight - Official Site



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Critic Reviews for The Way Way Back

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.

Full Review… | January 6, 2014
Top 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.

Full Review… | September 10, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | August 27, 2013
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | July 26, 2013
The Atlantic
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 19, 2013
Miami Herald
Top 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.

Full Review… | July 18, 2013
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 20, 2014
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.

Full Review… | December 8, 2013
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.

Full Review… | November 27, 2013
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.

Full Review… | November 1, 2013
Yahoo! Movies

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

Full Review… | October 26, 2013
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.

Full Review… | October 5, 2013

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.

Full Review… | September 7, 2013
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.

Full Review… | September 6, 2013
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

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

Full Review… | September 2, 2013
Observer [UK]

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

Full Review… | August 30, 2013
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.

Full Review… | August 29, 2013

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.

Full Review… | August 29, 2013
Daily Mail [UK]

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

Full Review… | August 29, 2013
Daily Express

Never mind the text; feel the texture.

Full Review… | August 29, 2013
Financial Times

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

Full Review… | August 29, 2013

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.

Full Review… | August 29, 2013

Warm, funny - and even fresh.

Full Review… | August 29, 2013
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.

Full Review… | August 28, 2013
Flix Capacitor

Audience Reviews for The Way Way Back

Didn't expect a movie where Steve Carell plays the asshole

Matt Goodman

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.

Dan Schultz
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.

Anthony Lawrie

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.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

The Way Way Back Quotes

Susanna: That's the power of this place. It's like spring break for adults.
– Submitted by Frances H (3 months ago)
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)
Owen: Don't die wondering.
– Submitted by Tomas K (11 months ago)
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)
Betty: Where is your eye-patch?
– Submitted by Bryan B (14 months ago)
Betty: She called me a C U Next Tuesday! To my face! Can you believe that?
– Submitted by Moe J (14 months ago)

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