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The Way, Way Back

HD   PG-13 Closed Captioning AD

Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

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About the Movie

Dive into this hilarious comedy from the studio that brought you Little Miss Sunshine and Juno! While 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) is being dragged on a family trip with his mom (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carell), he befriends the gregarious manager (Sam Rockwell) of a local water park. The two form a powerful bond, resulting in a vacation Duncan will never forget!

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 175
  • Fresh: 148
  • Rotten: 27
  • Average Rating: 7.3/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Nice comedic work from Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney buoys this pleasant but routine coming-of-age drama by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. – J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader, Sep 10, 2013

Rotten: The film has been complacently concocted for likability even as it gives you very little that's real, structured, or spontaneous enough to enjoy. – Wesley Morris, Grantland, Jan 6, 2014

Fresh: Never mind the text; feel the texture. – Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, Aug 29, 2013

Fresh: For all the longueurs, there are still enough moments of near brilliance to sustain you through the trip. – Catherine Shoard, Guardian, Aug 29, 2013

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


An especially strong script gives this talented ensemble cast plenty of solid material to work with in "The Way, Way Back," an impressive coming-of-age comedy-drama in which co-writer/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who also both wrote "The Descendants") use sharply observant dialogue to take a gently comical look at the connections people make with each other (good and bad) over a single vacation. Using endearing emotion and humor, the filmmakers and actors create vivid characters we can't help but identify with, even when they tend to do all the wrong things, which ends up making the movie feel all the more richly authentic in the long run. At the center of the plot is Duncan (Liam James), a socially awkward 14-year-old who pretty much dreads the thought of spending his entire summer at a beach house with Trent (Steve Carell), the cruelly critical new boyfriend of his totally oblivious mother Pam (Toni Collette). When they arrive, they meet gossipy neighbor Betty (Alison Janney), who has a whole season of neighborhood parties planned, and her teen daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) looks just about as miserable as Duncan does. But as he tries to escape this small town, our central protagonist finds a local water park run by a colorful misfit named Owen (Sam Rockwell), who decides to take him under his wing and even offers him a summer job. And being on his own gives Duncan the badly needed self-confidence to talk honestly to his mom, take on Trent, and maybe even ask Susanna out on a date. Although this is essentially a standard and straightforward entry in the coming-of-age genre, the well-written screenplay never once falls into any usual clichés. For instance, when Duncan's first kiss comes along, it plays out in an unexpected, realistic way. This is a generous, honest comedy packed with terrific characters and very resonant situations. Supported by the all-star cast, James delivers a solidly believable breakout performance as a sullen teen struggling to face the world around him, uneasily growing up while remaining awkward and likable. Meanwhile, Rockwell keeps us laughing with his role as a laid-back water park manager that's underscored with a sincere amount of sympathy. Collette beautifully layers the repressive and conflicted Pam, while Carell goes terrifically against type as the passive-aggressive Trent. And Janney nearly steals the show with her hilarious lines, as does Robb with her sweetly charming chemistry with James. Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and Zoe Levin also add some fresh deadpan wit to their fun supporting roles. Basically, the majority of these characters are forced to explore the story's central theme: that a lack of respect cripples us, while just a glimmer of it can make us blossom. Watching these people face their inner demons is thoroughly investing, mostly because Faxon and Rash (who also star in the film) play each scene for honesty rather than simplistic melodrama. We may laugh at the comical characters and situations, but we also get several moments of warm insight in the process. And perhaps the most refreshing thing about this movie is the way the adults simply stay in the background, messing everything up while the teens deal with their issues like real kids would. With its well-matched cast, heartwarmingly hilarious script, and youthful summer vibe, "The Way, Way Back" is an enjoyably honest and bittersweet story of growing adolescence that, despite its sense of familiarity, should really satisfy fans of this genre. At the very least, I'd say it's well worth a solid rent.

Best Feel-Good Movie of the Year

This movie has it all. It's hilarious, heart-warming, hilarious, heart-warming, fun, and thematically exceptional.


This film was one of the best shows of the summer. It's heart warming. And seriously hilarious! Steve carell is a giant douche in the movie. And he does so well. Everyone does so well.

The Way, Way Back
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  • $7.99
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Released: 2013

Customer Ratings