After seeing “The Kings of Summer” a terrific “coming of age” flick, I decided to skip “The Way Way Back” a repetitive version of the same theme. Fortunately, I listened to major enthusiasts whose approbation infected and inspired my curiosity, I am in their debt.
“The Way Way Back” is poignantly, intelligently written, sensitively well-acted, realistic in its tale of a fourteen-year-old boy hauled by his mother and her boyfriend to a dreaded summer cabin. “Duncan” (sullen, nerdy; Liam James paints a perfect portrait of an adolescent-misfit); his mother “Pam” (better –than -ever Toni Collette) torn between her feckless, self-absorbed boyfriend “Trent” (Steve Carell is obnoxiously wonderful) and her concern for Duncan.
Perpetually inebriated, next door neighbor “Betty” (Allison Janney, sizzles in the role), brings levity and cocky charm to her gravitas; her children “Susanna” and “Peter”, AnnaSophia Robb and River Alexander capture the hubris of living with a loving, iconoclastic, hilariously unbalanced mother.
The movie’s heart resides in the glorious, stupendous performance by Sam Rockwell. As “Owen”, a manager of the water park that Duncan haunts, he relates to and recognizes Duncan’s friendless, isolated vacuum, his frustrations and anxieties; humor is the curative salve administered with some of the most jocular, provocative lines in recent films; never obsequious, Owen nurtures, polishes, ignites the grit and grace in Duncan; Rockwell’s portrayal of a great soul is absolutely, stunningly brilliant; worthy of a nod from the Academy.
“The Way Way Back” qualifies as one of the best “feel good”, scintillating, entertaining films of the summer!
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!