July 16, 2013
Movie Review: The Way, Way Back **
Don't we all love coming-of-age stories? There's always a dorky main character, an older super-sweet pretty girl and a villain, and somehow the kid comes into his own, often winning the girl. This film's not quite as clichéd as that but it's damn close.
The villain, improbably played by Steve Carell, is just too mean. I know that's the definition of a villain, but this time he's too mean to be believable, at least for me. I pretty much hate him (poor Steve) from the opening scene where he's driving the family to his beach house and as Duncan's mom and sister sleep, Trent (Carell) asks how Duncan would rate himself on a scale of one to ten (I'm not spoiling anything - this is in the trailer) and Duncan says a six and Trent says, "No, you're a three."
Really...how could you not hate that guy? There's nothing redeeming about Trent but somehow he's Duncan's mother's boyfriend, and the rest of the story is how Duncan finds his own way and Trent gets his
Ho hum. The story had potential - it just didn't take advantage of it.
There's a cringe-worthy scene where Duncan is working at a water park and he's told to break up a crowd of kids who are watching some hip hop kids dance. Yeah, right, this nerdy little kid's going to do that. But of course he does it - the dancers don't even get mad - and then they get him to dance and that ingratiates him to them and to all the other kids in the water park. Thank god life isn't that stupidly easy.
Alison Janney as the crazy neighbor is a little over the top, Sam Rockwell is great and Maya Rudolph is Maya Rudolph. But I hated Steve Carell in this role and Toni Collette's performance as his girlfriend wasn't convincing. She seemed too smart to be so stupid. Liam James as Duncan is sweet and likable.
All in all, the best I can give this film is two stars, which means I didn't walk out, and I have to say I did like the ending. Just not enough to recommend the film.