Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You just surprised me - that's all.

Sometimes, even though I know better, I can't help but be totally envious. I'll be sitting there, watching a movie, and think I wish this was me. I wish this was my story. But the other night, after going through those familiar (and pathetic?) emotions, I realized the guy on screen kind of was me, actually. I was that bumbling oddball, working at a cool place near the beach for the summer. Even better, I had exactly what he had. The goofy work friends, the lame uniform, and even my share of embarrassing moments, too. Hell, I even had the intriguing blonde. Incredible, right? I had it all, really, except for maybe one thing. One very important thing.

I didn't have Sam Rockwell.

Wow. Let me tell you, I loved just about every aspect of The Way Way Back. There have been few films I have seen recently that were so simple and so quiet, yet still managed to resonate with me so much. Ah, to be young again...

Released in 2013 but featuring a vibe from decades prior, The Way Way Back tells the coming-of-age story of a young dude named Duncan. Shuttled away for a fun summer! at the beach by his mom, Duncan finds himself riding in the titular third row, as Mom's boyfriend Trent captains the old-school station wagon to his Massachusetts' beach house. Initially, it's pretty clear: this vacation is going to be work.

Duncan is undoubtedly awkward as it is, pale and hunched over, as if his body is following the lead of his personality and attempting to disappear entirely. Along for the trip, is Trent's (slightly older-than-Duncan) daughter, Steph. She doesn't really do much, other than serve as a nearby reminder as to everything the 14 year old Duncan isn't. Meaning? She's attractive and popular, and likely can successfully maintain an actual conversation. Mom has Trent. Steph has her beach friends. Duncan? Well, he doesn't have anything. Not even a clue.

Things turn around though, as the family next door to Trent's house seems to be pretty cool. Well, hot, actually, as their daughter is a pretty blonde, who, unlike Steph, isn't above speaking to Duncan. Unfortunately, like many a 14 year-old dude before him, he routinely puts his foot in his mouth destroying any chance he has with Susanna. Eventually, the pressure gets to him, and Duncan simply needs to get the Hell out of Dodge.

All this brooding and angst leads our boy Duncan to Water Wizz, a solid if unspectacular water park a few miles from Trent's place. At first, he just kind of sits there as he's so prone to do, but eventually he is offered a job by the park's owner/manager Owen, who apparently sees something in the introverted teen. 

From there, the movie takes off and we get to see Duncan transform into a different person. With a little confidence and lots of comfort, Duncan blossoms at the water park. His relationship with Owen becomes the central focus of the movie, and ultimately leads the story to its bittersweet conclusion.

Speaking of potentially upsetting finishes, here are the Yays and Boos. They've been clamoring to get into a pool all winter, but I think that's only because they keep catching that scene from Showgirls.


  • Trent's (Steve Carrell) a dick, yes, but damn that's a sweet ride.
  • Betty, the next door neighbor (Allison Janney). She's kind of annoying, and almost always hammered, but there's something very endearing about her, too.
  • Our latest movie soundtrack HOF candidate: Can't Fight This Feeling, by REO Speedwagon. Um, as performed by Duncan (Liam James).
  • Though Bonnie Tyler's I Need a Hero might be on that list, as well. Especially when used casually on clueless teens.
  • Duncan's mode of transportation, aka the Girl Bike. His may be even cooler than the one in The Goonies, if that's even possible.
  • Pac-Man. The second greatest video game ever made. The first? His lovely lady, of course.
  • The sweet urban legend of passing someone in the tubes. Our neighborhood had something like this, except it was about ghost-riding your bike into a curb and making it do a perfect front flip. 
  • So, anyone wanna chase ghost crabs with me? *crickets* Aww...
  • Okay, this movie has a lot of scenes that just make you smile like a moron, but one of my favorites has to be the break up the break dancing scene. That was quite honestly the best possible way that could have gone down. Friggin' Pop n Lock.
  • The amount of shit that Owen gives Duncan over the loudspeaker is impressive. Duncan. Please return to your ladyfriend.
  • Nat Faxon. Not only do I love this guy's face, but he co-wrote and directed this? Brilliant!
  • For about thirty seconds, my favorite scene in this movie was when Susanna attempts to comfort Duncan after the big blow up at the party. She's so sweet and trying so hard...it's very well done. Then our boy goes and blows the whole thing. Dudes. 
  • But my actual favorite scene? That comes at the very end. I'm not gonna lie and tell you that I wasn't a little choked up. Wait that was a lie. It was way more than a little (that damn father-son dynamic gets me again).
  • And finally, as I mentioned earlier, Sam Rockwell. While it's pretty much a rule that you have to love this guy, this might be one of my favorite performances from him. And that's saying something. He makes Owen, potentially a loser, seem like most enviable man in the world. He's charming, caring and ridiculously playful, but at the same time would absolutely die for any of his friends (which are more like family anyway). This guy's been through some stuff, and his life isn't easy, but he handles it in an incredibly admirable way. Oh, and he can dance like a motherf--ker.
  • Steve Carrell's Trent. This guy's really confusing. Seriously. I'm not sure if he's a bigger dick, or a bigger douche. A real dilly of a pickle, this.
  • Peter, the little kid next door. I actually liked this kid, but the number of jokes about his lazy eye got old fast. Especially the ones from his mom. WTF, lady?
  • Toni Collette, playing Duncan's defeated mom, Pam. Damn, girl. Stick up for yourself, huh?
  • And what's with making your son where the Marty McFly life-preserver? The ultimate cockblock!
  • For a minute, I wanted to choke the shit out of Duncan. Dude. Fine, you'd rather be with your dad in Albany, but face it. You're trapped at the Riptide all summer. And there's a hot chick next door! Shit ain't all bad. Wake up, bro.
  • Rob Corddry. My man, there was a moment I needed you to punch someone in the face. And you blew it.
  • Rainy days at the beach? Boo! But...then we can go to the movies, right? (yay!)
  • Candyland rules? Yeeesh. This shit's getting awkward....
  • And finally, it's hard enough being a kid, right? Right. But then, then, you're parents go and make that shit 900 times more difficult? Boo, I say. Booooo.

Well, I should have left for my new job a couple of minutes ago. This one has no beach. No interesting people. And nothing fun ever happens. And it certainly doesn't have Sam Rockwell either. And the drive is close to two hours. Each way. But hey, in every bad situation, there's always some good buried in there. I mean...

At least I get to sit in the front.


  1. I'm glad you adored this one. I was very underwhelmed by it. Sam Rockwell was the only thing that worked for me.

    1. I did! I guess I can see how it would be underwhelming, but I went in with essentially zero expectations. Obviously, I was totally into Rockwell's character, but you didn't even like the girl next door? I thought she was so sweet!

  2. This was one of my favorites from last year. I loved Sam Rockwell in this one, and I like the awkwardness of the kid - he wasn't trying hard, and it didn't come off as too awkward for a coming of age film.

    1. Glad you're with me! The kid was really, really convincing. He comes off extremely awkward and everything he says feels forced, but it made total sense.

      It's as good a coming-of-age film as I've seen awhile, and it didn't really remind me of anything either. It felt unique.

  3. I'm kind of with Britt one this one. I liked this enough, but it just never really all came together for me. It felt uneven. Rockwell was hilarious though. Loved him.

    1. I will say that I really didn't give a damn about Collette and Carrell's arc, as I thought they were essentially awful parents. That said, the rest of the story (everything about the water park and the neighbor girl) was so good, it didn't really matter.

      Rockwell. One of my favorites. Easily.

  4. Aw, I really liked The Way, Way Back. Rockwell is so damn perfect. That kid is so damn uncomfortably awkward.

    No yay for Jim Rash? Anytime he popped up on screen I was cracking up.

    1. Totally with you, Jess. I damn near loved the movie. Especially the ending.

      As for Mr. Rash, he was on the list, but I made a few last minute cuts and poor Lewis had to go. His dance moves at his so-called retirement party were definitely worth a Yay. Maybe even two. We had a guy at the restaurant that was kind of like him. He used to eat salt. As if that would make him cool.

      It didn't.

  5. I really wish I liked this one, but it bored me so much. I didn't even see the last few minutes because I turned it off - caught them last week when HBO played it before GoT. Rockwell was wonderful and it's always a treat seeing Janney but I just couldn't get into this movie.

    1. Liking this one and not liking The Paperboy? I've all of a sudden become That Guy. Hmm.

      Yeah, Janney is always fun (though that sitcom she's own makes me homicidal), and Rockwell should probably be on my Mt. Rushmore of actors I want to be best friends with.