Monday, 3 November 2014

The Way Way Back

Lowdown: A kid devastated from his parents’ breakdown finds himself with the help of a summer and a trusting guy.
Given the line-up of A level talent on deployment at The Way Way Back, I will forgive you if it takes you a while to realise it’s actually Duncan the teenage weirdo (Liam James) who is the star of the show here.
It's also got to do with the way we are introduced to Duncan, sitting as he is at the wagon end of a station wagon headed towards a family summer holiday. The family is made up of father Trent (Steve Carell), mother Pam (Toni Collette), teenage sister and Duncan. And in a conversation that reveals we have ourselves two families here instead of one, Trent asks Duncan to rate himself on a scale of 1 to 10. Trent’s own rating for Duncan is revealed: 3.
The family arrives at is American summer holidays destination to quickly settle at its summer house right next to all its summer neighbours and the summer mates that Trent and his daughter have known for all these years. While Pam quickly mingles, Duncan sticks out like a sore thumb; he clearly doesn’t want to be where he’s at.
Salvation/redemption comes in the form of Owen (Sam Rockwell), a stranger that happens to bump into Duncan on several occasions. Through his easy going nature, Owen and Duncan get closer. Owen proves the only one willing to give Duncan a break, and thus Duncan starts working at Owen’s water park, the place where he finally feels in place. Thus when the seemingly perfect starts breaking apart (courtesy of neighbour Amanda Peet, an actress specialising in the role of sexually induced family breaking), it is actually only Duncan that finds his feet.
The true beauty of The Way Way Back is in the relationship between Duncan and Owen. It is strange to see such a relationship develop on film between teenager and adult during these days when airlines have official policies dealing with the separation of adult males from younger passengers. Yet even though The Way Way Back fails to provide a satisfying answer to the question of why Owen takes interest in Duncan in the first place, it does prove why trusting in the basic goodness of thy fellow neighbour pays off. I can personally attest to that, as I had an Owen like character to support me during my childhood and it made all the difference. I could also see a lot of myself in both Duncan, with his obvious lack of social skills, as well as Owen with his trademark reluctance to take anything – even crises – without a smile. Because Owen and I both know what things truly matter in life, and frankly office meltdowns aren't in that list.
The combination of an hour and a half in the company of fine actors revealing to us an interesting tapestry of comedy and drama works very well. I thoroughly enjoyed The Way Way Back.
Best scene: When a child get stuck in the water slides, Owen looks for helping volunteers by quoting that great sage, Bonnie Tyler – “I need a hero,  I'm holding out for a hero, he's gotta be strong,  he's gotta be fast, and he's gotta be fresh from the fight”.
Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed what The Way Way Back had to tell me. This is a 3.5 crabs out of 5 movie that I have enjoyed at least 4 much.

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