By Graham "GSM" Matthews
I was asked to go to the cinemas last Friday by a family member to go see the movie "The Way, Way Back". Now, at this point, I hadn't seen any trailers for the film, much less even knew what it was about. We had to leave immediately in order to catch the movie, so I wasn't able to look up any info about it, but it wouldn't have caught our eye had it not starred Steve Carell in it. Not only that, but it was also made by the same people who produced "Juno" and "Little Miss Sunshine", and I enjoyed the latter, so I assumed this movie would be much of the same.
From the title, I figured it had something to do with time travel, but that couldn't have been farther from the actual plot. The title of the film was symbolic of the back of the car, which the main star/kid sat in on their way up (and from) the house they were staying in that summer. I missed the first few minutes of the movie, so I didn't get the connection until after I got home. Since we arrived late, I had zero idea what was happening early on in the movie, but it quickly started to make sense as the characters started to fall into place. There was the loner son, his cowardly mother, his mom's ignorant boyfriend (Steve Carell), his bratty step-sister, and his cute neighbor that he had a mild crush on.
The first portion of the film was somewhat depressing, but everything that followed lightened the mood a bit. The son ended up getting a job at a local water park and befriend the park's owner, who was comical throughout the movie and helped get the boy out of his shell. Of course, like in every successful film, the good times eventually come to an end and something drastic happens, as the boy ended up engaging in a heated argument with his step-dad over the fact that he witnessed him cheat on his mother. It was pretty heavy stuff, and the fact the movie featured a handful of explicit swears (none that I was personally offended by) entails that the movie was meant for a more mature audience.
Regardless, the movie throws some comedy into the mix as well, making it the perfect combination of everything enjoyable. Most of the characters throughout the course of the film evolve and show signs of growth. It's also interesting to see Carell portray a "bad guy" for the first time. I can't remember the last movie he starred in that he was the antagonist (if he was, I didn't watch it), so it was a nice change of pace and he hit it right out the park. He did such an excellent job with his conniving character that he had me hating him by the end of the movie.
Speaking of the ending of the movie, I wasn't a fan of it, but I don't think I was supposed to be. It had its positives and negatives. For those who haven't seen the movie (and if you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading here), the movie concludes with the family leaving after chaos ensues at the summer home. The mother doesn't leave the cheating husband, the boy doesn't end up with the girl, and the boy is forced to leave his wonderful job at the water park. It's not an ideal satisfactory ending, wouldn't you say? Well, I suppose if it did end that way, it would have been way too predicable, so the fact that it concluded in this was probably the best thing to differentiate it from every other movie ever made.
Despite all that, as the family is driving away, the mother leaves the front seat to join her son in the back seat, hence why the movie is called "The Way, Way Back", referring to the back of the car. It was clever, but it took me some time to finally realize that. So, I guess it ended something of a high note after all. It was definitely different than most movies out there at the moment and I, for one, enjoyed it. I didn't have any expectations going in since I hadn't seen any trailers for it prior to this point, so I was ultimately entertained by it. If you're a fan of subtle comedy, a solid story and intriguing characters, this movie is for you.
Should you see this movie? Yes.
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