The Way Way Back will ‘put a smile upon your face’ on a rainy day. There is something very likeable about this film, reminiscent of the feeling I had when watching Little Miss Sunshine.
The main character, Duncan, is a shy fourteen year old teenager. His mom’s new boyfriend Trent takes them to the beach house for summer holidays. The film starts with Trent ranking Duncan on the scale from 1 to 10 as … (just resisted a spoiler lol). Trent implies that Duncan should be more outgoing and communicative in his age.
As the story develops we learn that Duncan wants to be with his father who abandoned their family. He doesn’t like the pushy and annoying Trent (quite an unusual role for Steve Carell).
Duncan’s transformation starts when he meets Owen, a forty-something water park manager with a cheeky personality of a prank-prone teenager, a yet another charismatic performance in Sam Rockwell’s portfolio. Owen’s cheerfulness and humour are infectious. Duncan gets a job at the park, which is a great escape for him from the overbearing Trent. Owen becomes a father figure in Duncan’s life. No surprise that after a while Duncan develops confidence and even confronts Trent in public.
Duncan asks his mom why she puts up with Trent and she replies to him that she fears to stay lonely, unprotected. The final scene of the film is particularly satisfying answer to this. Not only Duncan develops the inner strength, he passes some of his newly found energy to his mom.
This is a story in a nutshell, this summary may look a bit like a retelling, but trust me I couldn’t possibly retell the outrageously funny banter of Owen or Betty.
What lesson one can learn from this film? If you want to grow as a person you need to abandon people who let you down, who lie and abuse you, who don’t appreciate you. Instead, stick with people who accept you as you are, who make you smile, laugh, who dare you to do bold things, stick with someone who believes in you.
We are social beings, our happiness is hugely affected by our circle of friends and relatives, so it’s important to find YOUR KIND OF PEOPLE and grow together.