Movie Review : The Way Way Back




Duncan (James) is a shy 14-year-old when his mother Pam (Collette) and her newish boyfriend Trent (Carell) take him to a small seaside town for the summer break. This summer is Pam’s way of seeing if they can make it as a family unit. Duncan tries to ignore Trent because Trent is a bit of a wanker. From almost the first scene, we see Trent trying to put down the obviously introverted Duncan. Yeah, Trent is a wanker but Duncan keeps quiet because he wants his mother to be happy.

When they arrive at their summer-house, they are greeted by the deliciously zany neighbour Betty (Janney). Betty is recently divorced and is holidaying with her 2 children, 14-year-old Susanna (Robb) and the younger Peter (Alexander). Be sure to watch for the interactions between Peter and his mother….. they are truly hilarious and Peter is my new hero.

Unhappy in his environment, Duncan secures a job at the local attraction, Water Wizz, where he is taken under the wing of the park’s Manager Owen (Rockwell). Through some subtle nurturing, some male bonding and some courage, Duncan slowly comes out of his shell. Only at the park does he truly feel happy.

This is a gentle, quiet, wonderful coming of age movie. I wanted to see it because of Collette and Janney and I am so glad that I did. It has so many layers which are unwrapped slowly and with the utmost care. Some of these layers are touching and sweet, like the subtle shift in Duncan’s relationship with his mother and his own blossoming friendship with the beautiful girl next door, Susanna.




Some of the layers are tears running down your face funny. The Water Wizz manager Owen has some of the funniest scenes and lines in the movie. His cheeky swagger hides a heart of gold. No that is wrong. It is never hidden at all. He is cheeky and he is brash and he does push all the limits but he is such a good person with the best of intentions, you cannot help but forgive all his annoyances.

There are some unhappy and almost cruel moments too. But life is like that. The journey that Duncan makes from boyhood into near manhood over this summer is an emotional one. Bu there are no over the top dramatics….. there are no hot n sweating teenage romps…. there is no moment when it all makes sense. It is simply a journey. And I am so lucky to have been able to take that journey with Duncan.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. It has a truly universal appeal…… for teenagers who want a little more from their movies than what is usually on offer, to those who know the pain of starting over and learning to trust again. It is a superb piece of film making with an absolutely stellar cast. Ohhhhh I wanna go see it again now. Who wants to come with me? 😉


Love Flick x


Director : Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Starring :  Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Anna Sophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander

Running Time : 103 minutes

Release Date : In Cinemas Now

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