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. RATING: 9/10