Review: The Way Way Back

The team behind Little Miss Sunshine return with another adventure in dysfunctional family holidays. Caitlin lets us in on why this is a triumph in cinema, that reminds us that despite it all, life is definitely worth living.

Every now and again a film comes out that ticks every box and reminds me why I love film, Little Miss Sunshine was one and the same studio have returned with another. Although impressively The Way Way Back, another comedic tale of a dysfunctional family (think ‘it’s funny because it’s true’), manages to hit even more emotional depth.

14 year old Duncan (Liam James) is at that time in life where he’s caught between childhood and adulthood, questioning who is he and how he relates to the world around him. The world around him predominantly being his family and when he is dragged along on one of those family holidays, he realises he is beginning to outgrow them. With his mother’s overbearing boyfriend, a crush on an older girl and the trauma that comes with understanding adult problems, Duncan has a lot to deal with and finds escape and appreciation at Water Wizz Water Park.

Performance wise, this film is stellar. Steve Carell plays the domineering boyfriend so well that the audience are gritting their teeth and clenching their fists wanting to punch him right between his stupid condescending eyes. Sam Rockwell gives an utterly faultless performance (as usual) as Duncan’s summer saviour. The performances from Toni Collette and Annette Benning enhance the already wonderful script and the junior end of the cast, Anna Sophia Robb and Liam James, manage to hold their own and even stand out amongst their adult colleagues.

The script is wonderfully crafted, hilariously and often tragically insightful into human psychology and the film is a triumph.

Despite it exposing some of the worst things about not only being a teenager but being a person trying to survive all the shit in the world, it has some of the most genuine, heartfelt and truly uplifting moments that has been seen in American film to date. It toes the beautiful line of showing us the hardships in life and reminding us why we put up with it.

So pull up a rubber ring or dive in the deep end and enjoy one of the best films of the summer.


Caitlin Lupton

The Way Way Back is out now.

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