Cinematic Releases: The Way Way Back

In a typical summer of big budget fare, it's fairly uncommon to get a movie as good as The Way Way Back. It's also rare for a lower budget comedy drama to be one of my favorites of the summer season. In the case of The Way Way Back, we get a nearly perfect coming of age tale that sets itself apart with an experienced cast, a great story, and some of the most honest performances this summer.

The Way Way back is an emotional journey through the eyes of a teenage boy experiencing the separation of his parents and the beginnings of his mother's new found relationship. If anything, the film touches on topics that everyone can relate to somehow. And it doesn't hurt that Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell are both on top of their game.

Rockwell always delivers the goods. In the case of The Way Way Back, he not only succeeds but carries the whole movie with blatant wit and a comedic sensibility unlike anything he's done before. Carell is finally back from shameless comedy land with his best performance since Little Miss Sunshine. Without spoiling anything, it's easy to say that he's talented at playing unlikable characters. Liam James stars as the emotionally challenged lead character with a certain flair missing from most youthful actors. Allison Janney is annoying as hell but serves her purpose as the drunk and disorderly neighbor. Toni Callette (while there) isn't really as good as she can be. She's just there serving the purpose of the miserable mom. All in all, the cast is great, even the ones that are there just to look pretty.

Dismiss the blockbusters this weekend and do yourself a big favor. See The Way Way Back. It will move you emotionally while making you laugh at Rockwell's outrageously funny performance. If you reminisce about the good old days when we got fun summer vacation films with a bit of actual story, not just crap getting blown up, see this one. It's on the higher spectrum of quality entertainment that doesn't dismiss its audience as brainless but instead people that actually want to see an effective story set in a reality of relationships gone wrong and the children that have to deal with the fallout.

-Review by Chris George