Valissa Smith is managing partner of www.itsallaboutHER.com, an online resource for women. She is a proud member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. You can watch Valissa's movie reviews Fridays at 11:00 a.m.on the KSHB-TV Midday Newscast.
Remember your familyís old station wagon? The one with the rear seat facing the car behind yours? What did your family call that seat?
The Way Way Back starts right there with 14-year old Duncan (Liam James) in the way, way back wondering where his motherís new boyfriend is taking them for this summer jaunt. He doesnít like Trent (Steve Carell) and itís clear Trentís daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) doesnít like Duncan. His mother Pam (Toni Collette) really wants this relationship to work.
As they pull into their summer beach house they are greeted by Betty (Allison Janney,) who lives next door and has known Trent for years. The loud, wacky neighbor with her blunt demeanor is a solid contrast to her quiet, book reading daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb.) Duncan wants nothing to do with any of them.
With the help of Stephís abandoned old bicycle, Duncan takes off everyday roaming the coastal community for a friendly escape. Thatís when he makes an unlikely friend - Owen, the manager of the Water Wizz water park.
The Way, Way Back grabs you by the gut from the opening scene when Duncan is asked by Trent to rate himself on a scale of 1 to 10. Duncanís answer broke my heart and Trentís response made me gasp. I actually wanted to punch Steve Carell and really hated his character by the time the film was over - (good job Carell!) Duncan is an awkward age anyway but now he has a jerk courting his mother who at one point in the film tells her son that sometimes people make decisions of survival.
Itís all funny. Itís all poignant. Itís from the creators of Juno and Little Miss Sunshine so the characters are distinct, unique and real. Itís a MUST SEE this summer.
Arruga! = 0
Fidget Factor = 0
Age Range = 12 and up
Overall Grade = A
Toni Collete best known for her roles in The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine.
Allison Janney best known for her roles in Juno and The West Wing
AnnaSophia Robb best known for her roles in Bridge to Terabithia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory