The Way Way Back (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Way Way Back (2013)



Critic 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.

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 find his place in the world - all during a summer he will never forget. (c) Fox Searchlightmore
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Jim Rash, Nat Faxon
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 22, 2013
Box Office: $21.5M
Fox Searchlight - Official Site


Liam James
as Duncan
Zoe Levin
as Steph
Maya Rudolph
as Caitlyn
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Way Way Back

Critic Reviews for The Way Way Back

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (43)

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

The Way Way Back has its heaviness, but in the end it floats to the surface and lodges.

Full Review… | November 16, 2015
Missoula Independent

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

Audience Reviews for The Way Way Back

Not without its moments, but uneven overall--too many characters to background in the early going. As a result, the movie kind of wanders for the first 20-30 minutes, and winds up leaning too heavily on the montage while telling Duncan's story, glazing over the sense of purpose that his new job gives him and his budding romance with the girl next door. Strong final act, though, and great work by Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell playing against type, but there was just too much story here, probably two and a half hours worth... I wouldn't have sat through this kind of movie were it that long, but instead of glazing over the main plot to make it shorter, they could have cut a plot line or two and really brought us further inside Duncan.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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

The Way Way Back Quotes

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