Comedy, drama or something else? The film The Way Way Back is another achievement in a series of those we have written about before, more precisely, which fall into many genres, without actually belonging to any of them. As we have mentioned before, such films have only crumbs of the mentioned genres, which are not enough to experience them within the mentioned. Perhaps the most painless thing would be to characterize this achievement as a film about growing up and finding oneself, or as such stories are popularly called “coming of age”. However, these would also be too strong words, given that the plot of this film deals only with a part of a complex journey, such as the developmental path of a young man. After all, maybe the segment of genre classification is not so important, so this dilemma of ours will seem superfluous, and maybe even funny. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to categorize films in this aspect, and in such cases people often do not experience them in the same way. So, classify it yourself where you want, and in the following text we will try to penetrate into other elements of this realization, which are hopefully more relevant than this introductory one.
The protagonist of The Way Way Back is fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who goes on vacation with his mother Pam (Tony Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), as well as Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). The shy teenager Duncan is not really thrilled with the whole idea of a summer vacation with his potential stepfather, towards whom he has no reason to have sympathy and would rather spend the summer with his father, who unfortunately doesn’t really care about him. The beginning of this summer does not seem promising at all for Duncan, however, on this occasion he acquires a much older friend Owen (Sam Rockwell), who will help him get out of his shell and gain self-confidence. At the same time, an important moment for Duncan is the introduction of the girl Susan (AnnaSophia Robb), with whom he also finds a common language.
From our somewhat critical introduction, you may have felt that we do not share any enthusiasm for this film, but it is not quite so. “The Way Way Back” is actually a very warm story, imbued with dysfunctional relationships between its actors, which also makes it a dramatic component. Her emotions don’t touch some extremes and that may not make her such a powerful story. However, not everything in life is on completely opposite poles, including this film, which is like life itself, a bit of comedy and a bit of drama. Duncan’s problems are not large-scale, such as problems of an existential character, and may seem unimportant to some, but for Duncan they are certainly the greatest. So, this is an ordinary boy with everyday problems, so it is best to approach this story that way, without looking for its shortcomings in topics that it does not actually deal with.
The first thing that catches your eye, when it comes to acting, is the extremely atypical role of Steve Carell. This may not be so much a confirmation of his acting abilities, as our habit of watching him as a comedian. The very connection between the comedy genre and Karel’s name in the title of this film, creates the expectation that Karel will definitely be in charge of the humor in it, which, however, turned out to be completely wrong. After half of the film, you suddenly realize that Steve isn’t funny at all in this film, nor will he be, and most importantly, he shouldn’t be. His role is actually the most negative person in the film, or to put it mildly, he plays a jerk, and very successfully. On the other hand, Sam Rockwell and exclusively Rockwell are in charge of the complete humor in the film, which consists of one or two “ha-ha” moments, at least as far as successful sketches are concerned. The rest of the team did a satisfactory acting job, but nothing spectacular, so we would not single anyone out from the other mentioned names.
Finally, we would like to mention the relatively high-quality music in the film “The Way Way Back”, which contributes to the overall impression of this achievement being at least a shade more pleasant. If you are fed up with movie blockbusters and want a very ordinary movie, with a simple story, this realization could be the right choice for you. Perhaps the closest in comparison to this achievement would be the films Adventureland, (500) Days of Summer or even Little Miss Sunshine, with which he shares a similar cast, so if you liked the above, there is no reason not to like “The Way” Way Back. At the same time, this is a film suitable for almost all ages and can be a nice experience for the whole family.