Sunday, 1 September 2013

Review: The Way, Way Back

World of Blackout Film Review

The Way, Way Back Poster

The Way, Way Back
Cert: 12A / 103 mins / Dir. Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

It's a rare, but pleasing thing when a film can be centered around teenage a protagonist, told exclusively from his point of view, but not be 'a film for kids'. The Way, Way Back is a straight-on coming of age story, documenting a Summer month or so in young Duncan's adolescent life, but it's presented in a way that adult viewers can relate to in hindsight, rather than one that teenagers will be able to use as a guidebook*1. In many ways it's comparable to last year's Wallflower, but while also having a far fresher feel to it. While things never get quite as bleak as in Chbosky's movie, it's also true that the highs never quite match either.

But, The Way, Way Back's strength is that Duncan doesn't have an earth-shatteringly bad relationship with his family*2, it's just the normal, awkward growing up stuff that a lot of kids have to go through. This isn't a one-in-a-million story, it's something that a large number of people will be able to relate to completely, and yet writer/directors Faxon and Rash ensure that we feel for Duncan at every turn without pitying or dismissing him. On that note, Liam James is fantastic in the central role; I'll be interested to see where he goes from here.

The only problem with the film is that it drags its heels a bit, even when everything's got going. Given that the story is told entirely from Duncan's perspective, we still see surprisingly little of how he actually spends a month of working days at the water-park. I wanted more of those scenes as they're the heart of the film, and they're needed to sell the culmination (which is still fantastic, but y'know). Bonus points go to the directors for giving themselves parts which aren't glaringly narcissistic, either.

A beautiful way to end the Summer, The Way, Way Back is a must-watch for anyone who was a shy, geeky kid. And since you're reading this on the internet, I'm going to assume that means you as much as it does me.

It's a rare, but pleasing thing when a movie feels like it's been made just for you. It's not perfect, but then neither's growing up. You should see this film.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It is.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I confess, I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
For my money, yes, just about.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
For me, cinema. Your mileage will vary.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I will a little, yes.

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't. Strangely.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
I think if the movie had avoided the use of mobile phones, it'd be beautifully timeless. What do you reckon?

*1 Not that introverted teenagers won't be able to enjoy it, but the overriding message is 'everyone feels awkward at your age, stop dicking about and go and have some fun'. Which wasn't helpful to me at that age.
*2 Yeah, Steve Carell plays a bit of an arsehole, but there are way worse stepfathers in the world. Duncan doesn't have it that bad.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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