You know, the one that faced the back window. That’s where the kids used to sit and goof with the cars driving behind them.
Hence the movie title, THE WAY, WAY BACK.
This is not an easy movie to explain or market. Suffice it to say, the TV commercials promoting it certainly don’t do it justice.
So what do we have here?
Actually it’s one of the most poignant coming-of-age movies I’ve seen in some time.
But don’t let that scare you off.
It’s also a very funny and enjoyable movie for people of all ages. I’m talking from teens to people from the 1960’s here.
THE WAY, WAY BACK is basically a summer trip to the Massachusetts shore.
In the car we’ve got Toni Collette, her somewhat of an ass new boyfriend Steve Carell, his snippy daughter and Collette’s 14 year old son Duncan who’s main focus this story is really all about.
There’s definite tension between Carell and Duncan from the outset.
And things don’t get any better once they reach the vacation house. That is until Duncan finds his calling at the local waterpark called the Water Wizz, where wild man Sam Rockwell now takes him under his wing.
By the way, this is one of the best things I’ve ever seen by Rockwell.
Life improves for Duncan and he even lands a platonic relationship. But just when we start to believe everything has turned around for the better in his life, it’s time to end the vacation and head back home.
So is that’s all there is to this movie?
Not at all. That’s just the framework. There’s also the episode of Carell cheating on Collette with Amanda Peet and getting caught by Duncan. And the funny and often tipsy neighbor played to the hilt by Allison Janney. And, and…….
Well, let’s just say it’s a summer you won’t soon forget.
What we’ve got here is JUNO meets LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE with doses of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE-angst for proper seasoning. No wonder the film stole the hearts of fans at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
To properly market the movie, Fox Searchlight Pictures wisely chose to platform
the film. That is, to let it slowly expand throughout the country and allow word-of-mouth do its magic and find its audience. All that, plus pre-screen the daylights out of it.
To that end THE WAY, WAY BACK oppened to a very limited in New York City, L.A. and Boston over the 4th of July weekend. Fox then expanded runs last weekend to cover additional large cities. And this weekend the little jewel makes it to Kansas City.
But only as a very limited, three theater engagement.
Not to worry, distribution plans call for a good handful of additional runs throughout the metro beginning next Friday, July 26.
It’s not a big picture by any means. It’s a small, honest, realistic exploration of teenage angst and hope during a split family’s summer vacation from hell.
And yes, I had a lump in my throat.
I’m highly recommending this island of cinematic freshness during this summer of one-dimensional, blow-’em-up-real-good, over-the-top popcorn fare.
THE WAY, WAY BACK. Poor title, great picture.
I’m raising 4 out of 5 award winning fingers.
(Reviewed at Glenwood Arts Theater)
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES Friday mornings at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. on KMBZ Fm & Am / Also anytime on Time-Warner Cable / And throughout Nebraska on NEBRASKA ON DEMAND.)