Poster for The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way Back

2013, Comedy/Drama, 1h 43m

189 Reviews 50,000+ Ratings

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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. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Duncan (Liam James) is an awkward teen who must spend the summer at a beach house with his mother (Toni Collette), her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent's obnoxious daughter. Trent can't resist badgering Duncan, so the youth steals away to a water park and gets a job that will help him stay off Trent's radar. As Duncan tends to the slides and pools of the aging park, he finds a father figure in wisecracking park manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) at a time when he desperately needs one.

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Critic Reviews for The Way, Way Back

Audience Reviews for The Way, Way Back

  • Oct 05, 2016
    I like coming-of-age movies, and this is one of the better ones. Duncan comes out of his shell and stands up for himself after a summer at the beach. The chief architect of this change is Owen - a strange duck himself.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Oct 05, 2014
    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 P Super Reviewer
  • May 13, 2014
    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 V Super Reviewer
  • May 07, 2014
    The comedy team of Jim Rash and Nat Faxon must keep making movies together, because they are amazing. Previously heralded for their screenwriting on "The Descendants," they wrote, directed, and acted in this great coming of age story about a boy stuck between his nervous mother and her hostile boyfriend, while on vacation. There's such a truthful and bittersweet humor to this film, and style comes from that mirth and originality. Its characters are familiar, as if from life, and yet new to us, in the way they act onscreen. Of course the story is pretty run of the mill: boy goes on vacation, boy meets girl, and boy becomes cool via older, callow friends, and eventually finds the courage to stand up to his parent. Yet still, there is a truth and passion to the story that really comes from knowing a teenage experience and knowing that life has many problems but many hidden joys. Sometimes the best kind of coming of age comedies are the ones where everything eventually works out, even if it's not realistic.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer

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