Movie Review: The Way, Way Back
Eric Hook wrote this review 3 years and 9 months ago
How can a film make you feel so unspeakably happy & horribly depressed at the same time?
The Way, Way Back follows Duncan, a 14 year old recluse who’s prematurely learning that life can get pretty ugly. His mom’s boyfriend played by Steve Carrell is a self-righteous scumbag (a bit of a departure for him). Who treats Duncan’s mother poorly, and manipulates her feelings. This ill-treatment is more visible to Duncan than his mother. Not only is the kid ridiculed by everyone around him, he has to watch his mother get kicked in the dirt as well. People forget how lonely it is to be a kid, especially when your daily concerns are this dark. So Duncan battles these problems internally, but there’s only so much a kid can take before he explodes.
The Way, Way Back feels much like an escape, which is what summer vacation is supposed to be. But Duncan’s time working at the water park eventually has to come to an end, and it does so suddenly. He is forced to leave behind a place & individuals he will likely never see again, and I think everyone can relate to that. As a kid you’re at the mercy of your guardian, you go where they go. Duncan’s departure back into the real world is uncertain, who knows if this summer will be the catalyst to turn his life around. The ending isn’t a smile wrapped up in a bow, but it’s still hopeful, and more importantly it’s realistic.
The pairing of the nonchalant cool mentor & youthful outcast is a trope I’ve seen many times before, but it didn’t feel overworked in this case. The film really has everything a coming of age story should; the hard times, the humor, and a viewpoint or philosophy to take with you. It’s an emotional journey that will speak to each member of the audience individually.