The Way Way Back (movie review)

The Way, Way Back is one of those indie movies that will probably be remembered for it’s soundtrack rather than it’s content. It’s charming and satisfying, but no one is going to remember this movie existed – it’s predictable, yet enjoyable entertainment.

This is one of those “if you’ve seen one coming of age story, you’ve seen them all” sort of movies, but there are plenty of strong performances and interesting relationships to carry the flick through. Steve Carell’s character is a bit flatly drawn and Sam Rockwell seems to be playing Jeremy Piven’s character from PCU, but again, they’re not trying to perform Shakespeare; it’s a little movie about a kid who works at a water park for the summer so he can hide from his family.

The most frustrating part of watching The Way, Way Back is trying to figure out what the filmmakers are telling you with the vintage arcade machines, ghetto blasters, break dancing, hair styles and music – the movie takes place in a contemporary time frame, but it’s as though the flick is pissed off that it’s neither the 1970s nor 80s. I also can’t figure out the cell phones – some characters have them… I don’t think the adults do, though. I can’t figure out what that means. I also can’t figure out why these adults don’t have to work all summer. Carell mentions he’s a car salesman… isn’t the summer his busiest time of year? Oh well.

There’s also a bit with Sam Rockwell’s character that I may be reading too much into. Rockwell and Liam James see each other in traffic – it’s the first interaction James has with anyone at the beach. Then he runs into him again at the pizzeria, and then again at the water park. All of the interactions are by chance. Is that supposed to mean something? I have no idea.

I’m clearly hurting my brain over this flick, and it’s really just a simple coming of age story. Sure,  it’s predictable, but you can get away with that when your movie is about the relationships between the characters and not necessarily the plot.  If you’re looking for some nostalgic fun (if you’re not a teen, that is), then check out the The Way, Way Back – I give it a 7.5 out of 10. (That might be a little low, too.)

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on March 19, 2014, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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