In summers past, studios would release sequels and action extravaganzas, but in the '80s and '90s, there was also a strong collection of mid-tier comedies, thrillers, romances, etc. Now, seemingly each new week of the summer has another lumbering sequel or wanna-be franchise fi lm opening. If you feel blockbuster fatigue setting in, the charming coming-of-age comedy will seem like a breath of fresh air.
Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who both won Oscars for co-writing The Descendants, The Way Way Back follows an awkward 14-year-old (Liam James) accompanying his mom (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend (Steve Carell) to Carell's beach house for the summer. James and Carell don't get along at all. Carell, usually a nice guy in fi lms, is convincingly cast against type as a world-class jerk.
The boy comes out of his shell a bit after meeting Sam Rockwell's carefree water park manager.
Not much happens in the way of plot; the movie simply and humorously tells the story of a young boy coming into his own and learning to assert himself. But The Way Way Back's low-key charms stand out prominently amidst the summer's spectacle.