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With: Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander, Zoe Levin, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Adam Riegler
Written by: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Directed by: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material
Running Time: 103
Date: 07/26/2013

The Way, Way Back (2013)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Slide Projecting

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Coming-of-age stories in movies are a dime-a-dozen, and they frequently seem to be based on other coming-of-age movies, rather than actual humans that came of age. But The Way, Way Back (2013) — named for the place that kids used to ride in old Station Wagons — is both hilarious and touching, digging just a little deeper than usual. Teen Duncan (Liam James) is forced to go on a summer holiday to Cape Cod with his mother (Toni Collette), her condescending boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent's unpleasant daughter (Zoe Levin). Dismayed by the drinking and cheating of the adults around him, he goes exploring and discovers the Water Wizz theme park. There, he meets the cocky, irresponsible, but likable Owen (Sam Rockwell), who takes Duncan under his wing. Rockwell is hilarious, turning in one of those intoxicatingly carefree performances a la Bill Murray, but grounded in something real. Like the best coming-of-age movies, this one is rooted in pain and uncertainty, which makes the good stuff all the sweeter. It was co-written and co-directed by a pair of actors: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.

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