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The Way Way Back Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by on Nov 03, 2013
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews the summer adventures of shy,14-year-old Duncan who gets his first job and a new galpal all while avoiding his unkind and over-controlling would-be stepdad.

By: Lynn Barker 

Did an adult ever make you feel like you were lower than gum on the street? Then you can relate to Duncan. His mom has hooked up with a guy who is always putting Duncan down and he’s stuck with them for the summer in a strange town with no friends or means of escape… until he finds the Water Wizz water park! 

Story Goes 

14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) is forced to go on summer vacation to a beach house in a small seaside town in Cape Cod with his mother Pam (Toni Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and Trent's daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Trent is just mean to Duncan, making him feel like a loser. After meeting neighbor Betty (Allison Janney) and her very pretty teen daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), shy Duncan tries to slink away unnoticed. 

Duncan and Susanna at Water Wizz parkDuncan and Susanna at Water Wizz park

To escape, Duncan finds a spare bike and explores, discovering the local water park Water Wizz where the laid back, funny and friendly manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) befriends him and finally hires him to work there for the summer. Back at the beach house, mom is mixing it up with Trent’s loser friends who party and ignore him. Duncan sees Trent making out with a neighbor woman but doesn’t tell mom. Susanna and Duncan get closer as she tells him about her absent dad and her own relationship problems. 

Duncan and his pal Owen at Water WizzDuncan and his pal Owen at Water Wizz

At a big 4th of July party, Duncan realizes that mom Pam suspects that her boyfriend Trent is fooling around and after another episode of verbal abuse from Trent, Duncan spills the beans to mom about what he saw. Trent, like an evil child instead of an adult, shouts back that Duncan can’t ever go stay with his dad because Duncan’s dad doesn’t want him. Devastated, Duncan runs away, tries to kiss a shocked Susanna and ends up at a party Owen is throwing at Water Wizz, the only place he feels at home. 

Owen confronts Trent and Duncan's mom PamOwen confronts Trent and Duncan's mom Pam

Owen sympathizes with Duncan’s problems. He too had an abusive dad. Back at the beach house later, Duncan’s mom Pam as evidently forgiven Trent and the “family” is packing up to go home early. Susanna kisses Duncan goodbye and he is stoked! On the way out of town, Duncan gets out of the car and runs back to the water park to say goodbye and go down the big slide with his buddy Owen. Pam follows and realizes her son has found a family at the park. She sympathizes and we get the idea that maybe she’ll be more in his corner in the future. 

Duncan has fun at Owen's partyDuncan has fun at Owen's party

Special Features 

Behind the Scenes with Cast and Filmmakers – is a making-of feature in which cast members talk about their characters. You see storyboards for the movie and hear about the script and how the story came to be. The two writer/directors also play minor characters in the film. The guys talk casting and, on set at a real water park in Massachusetts, we see the gang playing on the water slides. The guys and cast talk about taking the film to the Sundance Film Festival where it really got launched. 

Deleted Scenes – These are funny and worth a watch but would just have made the movie too long. 

A Movie Trailer Extra takes you back to the real water park where filmmakers and cast have more fun. 

A miserable Duncan rides in the way way back car seatA miserable Duncan rides in the way way back car seat

Wrapping Up

The extras on the Blu-ray are okay but not that exciting for kids and teens. They are certainly worth a first watch. The film is very relatable for tweens and teens who might be coping with family upheaval or have good friends who are. There is love there for sure but you see that parents are people too and certainly not perfect. 

Duncan leaves Susanna and her mom behindDuncan leaves Susanna and her mom behind

Duncan might be like you or you definitely know someone like him; a good kid going through some coming-of-age problems all while trying to build some much-needed self-esteem and searching for some summer fun/escape from his troubles. 

Liam James is cute and a very good actor in the film and Steve Carell whom you know especially from his voice roles as Gru in the Despicable Me films, and Horton Hears a Who in addition to the Anchorman movies and more, is usually the nice guy. In The Way Way Back, he plays a selfish, mean jerk but he does it very well! All the actors are excellent and the movie is well worth adding to your collection. We go 4 Stars. 

The Way Way Back Rating: 4


The Way Way Back is rated PG-13, now available on Blu-ray + DVD!