By Sara Solano
New York, N.Y.
Let me ask you something: On a scale of one to 10, what do you think you are?” Trent asks Duncan. “I don’t know . . . a six?” Duncan replies. Trent’s response is harsh: “I think you’re a three,” he says.
It’s the first scene of “The Way, Way Back” and already we are learning that Duncan, 14, has a difficult relationship with Trent, his mother’s boyfriend. Right away, audience members will sympathize with Duncan, who is en route to Trent’s summerhouse. What follows is a fantastic story about divorce, teenage years, love and self-realization.
Directors and writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash walk us through Duncan’s summer. Insecure and introverted, Duncan is not only attempting to navigate the awkward teenage years, but also struggling to recover from his parents’ separation and to deal with the condescending Trent.
Duncan clearly feels lonely at the beginning of the film. Even though his mom’s love for him is fairly evident, she constantly chooses Trent’s company over Duncan’s, pushing Duncan to find support elsewhere.
The film offers no epic surprises, and yet remains unbelievably suspenseful, thought-provoking, and genuinely hilarious. Despite his horrible dance moves, audience members fall in love with Duncan by the end of the film.
Additionally, the cast is overwhelmingly talented. Sam Rockwell, who plays Duncan’s boss, is my personal favorite. He takes on a major role in the movie—and this just might be one of the best interpretations of his career.
Even though it has stereotypical characters and familiar themes, as well as an ambiguous ending—about which I had mixed feelings—“The Way, Way Back” is a great take on dysfunctional families and self-realization. It is arguably one of the best movies of the year.