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'The Way Way Back' Review: Your Elixir to Ward Off Big, Bloated Blockbusters

'The Way Way Back' Review: Your Elixir to Ward Off Big, Bloated Blockbusters


The Way, Way Back is a sunny wonder, a movie made for virtual pocket change (less than $5 million) that effortlessly out-classes such floundering box-office behemoths as The Lone Ranger and White House Down.

The script, by actors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who also directed (and gave themselves a pair of funny supporting roles as well), is a feast for the lively cast, and you can feel them reveling in it. Soon you are, too.

The movie captures the great American seashore vacation–the breezy boat docks, the twilit dunes, the grownups cocooned in a boozy haze while their children die of boredom–in all its torpid glory. Steve Carell plays Trent, a self-regarding car dealer who has driven in from Albany to spend the summer at the big shake-shingle beach house he maintains not far from Cape Cod.

With him are his grumpy teen daughter Stephanie (Zoe Levin); his similarly divorced girlfriend Pam (Toni Collette); and her 14-year-old son, a slumpy introvert named Duncan (Liam James, of AMC’s The Killing). Trent and Pam have been together for a year, and Trent has let it be known that marriage is in the offing. Pam longs for that sort of stability, and she has forced herself to ignore Trent’s cold arrogance, especially toward her son. (Ranking Duncan on a scale of one to 10, Trent pronounces the hapless kid a three – to his face.)

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