The movie opens with the scene of Trent (Steve Carrell) driving through the freeway, talking to Duncan (Liam James). Trent asks Duncan what he would rate himself on a scale of one to ten, and when Duncan reluctantly yells out “Six” from the back of the station wagon, Trent cruelly says that he believes Duncan is more of a three than a six. We soon find out that he is dating Duncan’s mum, Pam (Toni Collette) and that Trent has a daughter of his own, Steph (Zoe Levin). Duncan is revealed through the story as a lonely and unsure 14-year-old and when a water park manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) befriends him, he learns to put his defense down and help his mother rediscover the strength of their family bond.
The story itself may be a simple coming of age story and in this day and age, it is quite unusual to see a movie about a friendship between a grown-up man with a young boy while keeping the integrity of the friendship without any funny business. The fresh, witty dialogues by the writers-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash makes this movie highly enjoyable! These are the same writers who were responsible for The Descendants – that I enjoyed as well. Some of the characters in this movie say some of the most wrong and improper things that they are the funniest things that you hear at the movies – without being obnoxious or contrite. Allison Janney says some of the funniest thing as Trent’s slightly kooky neighbour, Betty.
I also appreciate Faxon and Rash’s decision not to wrap every storyline neatly at the end of the movie and let the audience come to their own conclusion. If this were a typical Hollywood rom-com, there will be romance and happily ever after and that the main female character will end up dating the main male character. Thankfully The Way Way Back is way more mature than that!
If you want to surprise yourself with a great feel-good movie with lots of laugh out loud moments, you should go and watch The Way Way Back – you won’t be disappointed! One of the freshest movies I’ve seen for a while!
PS: I am so glad that I didn’t watch the trailer before I watched the movie. The international trailer is atrocious! The US version is a tad better so I have included it here instead.