The Way, Way Back: funny late summer surprise
It lacks robots and explosions, but critics love this hilarious, touching, coming-of-age story
What you need to know
American comedy-drama The Way, Way Back has opened at UK cinemas. The film is a directorial debut for screenwriter team Nat Faxon and Jim Rash who were behind the Oscar-winning The Descendants. It premiered at this year's Sundance film festival.
The Way, Way Back is the coming-of-age story of Duncan, an unhappy, introverted 14-year-old on summer vacation with his mother and her overbearing new boyfriend, Trent. When Duncan finds an unexpected ally in Owen, manager of a water park, his summer starts to look more promising.
Stars Steve Carell as Trent, Sam Rockwell as Owen, Toni Collette as mother Pam and Liam James (from the US The Killing) as Duncan.
What the critics like
"Funny, uplifting and real" - this is a film for every age, says Olly Richards in Empire. What makes this more than just a teen film is the attention paid to every character, no matter how minor - there is delight everywhere you look.
"What elevates The Way Way Back from quirky indie flick to mainstream summer contender is the razor-sharp script," says Emma Matthews at Den of Geek. By turns hilarious, touching, surprising and occasionally pervy, it lacks robots and explosions, but The Way, Way Back will be your favourite movie of this summer.
What could be mistaken for a message movie full of canned sentiment is in fact a "sharp, tender, and extremely funny" film, says Christopher Orr in The Atlantic. An unexpected yet irresistible cross between Meatballs and The Ice Storm, The Way, Way Back just "may be the best movie of the summer".
What they don’t like
The film is "pretty generic", yet it is likeable, and has some moments of truthfulness underneath the clichés, says Siobhan Synnot in The Scotsman. It's just a a pity that Duncan is such a passive hero. ·