Sundance Review: The Way, Way Back

Time for another Sundance film review! Hopefully this isn't the last one of the fest...but this is the last one I had guaranteed tickets for since the festival always sneaks up on me. However, I am hoping to get into a few other films via standby in the next couple of days...so we will see if I have any luck with that. But if I don't end up seeing Austenland, In A World..., A.C.O.D. or The Spectacular Now, I will at least have ended on a high with The Way, Way Back.

First off. Can I just say how much I utterly love Jim Rash? Not only does this guy just crack me up with everything he does, but more and more with each project he proves just how talented he is. Okay I'm sure his writing partner and co-director Nat Faxon is just as talented... but he doesn't happen to portray Dean Pelton from Community...nor did he have the hilarious uncontrollable urge to mock Angelina Jolie at last year's academy awards that made me love him even more. So what can I say? I'm biased. But he and Faxon, as with their first screenplay The Descendants, made me laugh throughout the whole movie with ease because of their witty and memorable script...but unlike The Descendants, in this film both men turned in supporting roles as well that also helped the film's cause. Seriously...Jim Rash was a hoot, even just for his physical appearance alone. Jim Rash appreciation rant over.

I absolutely loved The Descendants, which is why I really wanted to see this one as well. I definitely could see a lot of similarities between the two films, but ultimately The Way, Way Back isn't as weighty...it feels more breezy and less ponderous. Not that that's a bad thing. I'd say it's more of a feel good film than a thinker film....BUT it made me feel REALLY good. But I mean, truth be told, I do think it's a bit of both...and I think much of that is due to the fabulous cast and the small nuances they brought to their performances. It's refreshing to see Steve Carrell play someone other than Michael Scott or the variation of Dan in Real Life we've been seeing too much lately (ie Crazy Stupid Love and Seeking A Friend For the End of the World,)... even if he does play a huge jerk. Carell does a great job here playing against his norm, as does Toni Collette, who too is playing a role more unlikeable than usual (yet somehow she still remains amiable enough to feel sorry for.) But the film definitely wouldn't work without the talents of its young star Liam James and Sam Rockwell. The rapport between the two is what keeps the film interesting and fresh. Rockwell in particular really leaves a lasting impression. He was humorous, but he had a lot of heart that really defined the film.

This summer coming-of-age story isn't particularly new or groundbreaking, but it is well made by everyone involved... and sometimes that is all it takes. I have to say it is probably one of my favorite indies to come along in awhile. Also did I mention it is hilarious? The whole theater clearly felt the same way because the laughter was almost non stop throughout. I loved this movie. It made me long for summer, where I hope that in addition to fabulous weather, this film can get a wide release and be seen by as many people as possible. EMILY RATING: 9


Movies For Lunch Guys said...

I loved that Jim Rash had the guts to mock Angelina Jolie immediately after accepting his Oscar from her! Dean Pelton and his unrequited crush on Jeff Winger is one of the funniest parts of Community. This review makes me excited to see it.

And thanks for the Sundance updates! It's nice to hear about movies from someone who shares a similar taste in movies.

Speaking of independent movies, I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild and I'm not such a fan. It's pretty abstract and weird and felt more like a documentary than a feature film. I don't understand all the love (Best Picture? Really?) and while I do prefer more mainstream fare I still watch indie movies (I really liked Safety Not Guaranteed.)

Any reactions to JJ Abrams allegedly directing Episode VII? I think its a smart-on-the-verge-of-genius choice. The guy loves sci-fi and has already proven that he's a great filmmaker/director.

Dan from Movies for Lunch

Emily said...

Agreed re: Jim Rash. He was my hero for making fun of Angelina. I absolutely can't wait for Community's return and some more Dean/Jeff interaction.

I haven't seen Beasts yet, but I definitely will have to before the Academy Awards. I think the Way Way Back is a mainstream indie if that makes sense. So I definitely would recommend it to all.

And yes....I was THRILLED. I seriously screamed for joy when I heard the news. He was my first choice. He loves these movies and I know he's gonna do them justice. I can't wait to hear the cast.

Johanna said...

It takes a lot for me to venture out and see a Steve C. film after Dinner With Schmucks. Although he was fine in Hope Springs, so maybe there's hope. Did this one get picked up? Hope so or else I'll never see it.

Amelia said...

Why didn't I see this one?? It's official I have terrible sundance luck *sigh*

Sarah said...

Sounds like an interesting movie. I am always down for a laugh!

Johanna said...

This was a great, great movie. Steve C. really did a great job. The movie was well-crafted, acted, written, and directed. I loved, loved it.

Sarah said...

I finally got a chance to watch this movie awhile back. It is much more than a laugh. It was endearing and it definitely tugged at your heart. Great movie. Sam Rockwell is really cool too.