Review: Why The Way Way Back is already one of my favourite films of the year

I’ve never been a big fan of Twitter. I never saw the point of it, and I wondered for a long time how it got so popular with so many people. I made a profile but didn’t use it for years. I think mostly that was because I didn’t understand how it worked, and for many long years, thought it was just a condensed version of Facebook (which of course it isn’t.)

I started to use it more and more often when I started my new job, so that I could post from the organisation’s twitter page and not totally fail at it. So as I got to know it better, I started following more and more cool people, one of those cool people being the amazing Jim Rash, a screenwriter and the ever-glorious Dean Pelton from one of the greatest shows on television, Community. Recently, I kept seeing Jim tweet about a film called The Way Way Back. I didn’t investigate, I’ve never seen the trailer, and I had no idea who was in it. Then, today on a trawl through my local cinema listings for an after-work activity, I discovered it was released in Australia this morning. Having no idea about any of it aside from Jim’s incessant tweeting, I decided to watch the trailer.

Now I’m a huge fan of Little Miss Sunshine, and the trailer instantly transported me to that kind of space again, so I knew I’d be in for a treat. I convinced a buddy to come along with the promise of burritos as a reward, and we hopped along to the cinema.

One thing I’ll say for the studio – they know how to cast a fucking film. I’ll see anything if Sam Rockwell is involved, and the supporting cast of Steve Carrell (who plays a surprisingly great douchebag-from-hell), Toni Collette (ever the mother figure) and ALISON FUCKING JANNEY (who is a jesus in her own right) plus Maya Rudolph? Just sublime. The younger characters too are great – Annasophia Robb as Susanna, River Alexander as Peter and of course Liam James as our protagonist, Duncan. I won’t go into specifics of each of their performances – that could take up a whole lot more time! – but my god. What a spectacularly talented cast.

The man is glorious.

Such a simple story – that of a young boy dealing with having to spend his summer in the company of people he hates, and the struggle of being 14 and awkward about everything. Which everyone is.
Yeah we’ve seen these coming-of-age type stories recycled and retold and redone a million times. But something gorgeous has happened in The Way Way Back, and it just gets everything right.

The soundtrack is equally as stellar as the cast, complementing the film’s pace and style perfectly. The ending isn’t outrageous, it doesn’t negate everything that’s been set up prior, and it doesn’t make you cringe. The dance scene is heartwarming, and the very lovely, little tiny specks of a young romance are a masterclass in subtlety.

I can’t talk this film up enough. An everyday story transformed into a delight to watch, thanks to some magical performances by James and the ever-brilliant Rockwell. Give that man sassy or witty characters and he will give you gold in return (if you haven’t seen Seven Psychopaths, you are living a lesser existence.) If you get the chance to, do go and see The Way Way Back. You absolutely won’t regret it.

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