HIP Life Movie Review: The Way, Way Back

Yes, Way, A Good Summer Movie!

By, Bill Boden


The Way, Way Back

Starring Sam Rockwell, Liam James, and Steve Carrell.

Fox-Searchlight Pictures

103 minutes



Word is spreading fast about the pleasant surprise for 2013 summer moviegoers. In a season filled with superhero explosive-laden sequels and reboots, the new beach house dramedy The Way, Way Back could easily be the best movie of the summer. To effectively fill in the characters of an ensemble this large requires a well-written script, and once again, Jim Rash and Ned Haxton have delivered. When they last co-wrote a screenplay they won an Oscar for it – 2011’s The Descendants. This time, Rash and Haxton not only wrote the script, they co-directed the movie and wrote minor roles in it for themselves.


Going against the grain of his typically likeable but slightly pathetic character, Steve Carell plays Trent, an anal-retentive philanderer who harasses his girlfriend’s son Duncan (Liam James) during a trip to his beach house. Duncan is as comfortable as a fish in the sand while visiting Trent’s house at the beach, and it’s not until he finds water at the park named Water Wizz that Duncan begins to come into his own.


Sam Rockwell—who as Owen carries the emotional heart of this movie—seems born for this role of the wise cracking Peter Pan manager at Water Wizz, a park that wouldn’t operate at all without the efforts of Caitlin (Maya Rudolph). Haxton and Rash are also employed at this park, and it is to his new job there Duncan escapes daily, slowly coming to like himself and gaining the vision to see that all is not right with Trent.


Allison Janney and Toni Collette bring their talents to the movie, and AnnaSophia Robb, last seen as the surfer mutilated by a shark in the 2011 movie Soul Surfer, provides Duncan with his summertime crush. Water Wizz is an actual water park in Marshfield, Massachusetts, and the park is sure to see higher flip-flop traffic with this movie. The park helps Duncan with some major adolescent lessons, and as he learns them, Owen and Caitlin move toward becoming a couple. They in turn give Duncan the only example of adults in love he has ever seen. If this movie sounds to you like one made for the out-of-school crowd at the movies on a rainy day, well, as I said, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.


The screenwriters gave The Way, Way Back the same ineffable quality as they did The Descendants, and I trust you’ll find more to enjoy with this movie than you will in any of the C.G.I. onslaughts vying for our cinematic dollars.


Being the marketable force he is gives Steve Carell top billing on the poster. But make no mistake – Sam Rockwell is the star. The poster depicts Duncan underwater, with the number 3 on the side of pool, and the large cast of the film above the waterline. This 3 is significant. As the movie nears its wrap, Owen tells Duncan’s Mom, “You got a good kid here,” and we leave the story with Duncan and his mother sitting next to each other, in Trent’s station wagon, on the seat in the way, way back.

William Boden was born in Queens, New York. He earned his BA in creative writing from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and is currently an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina. The four chapbooks he published include Guest of Honor and Deep Rain and his book of poetry, The Quiet Fields, was published in 2012. William and his wife, Theresa, make their home in Largo, Florida, and they like to spend time in the Black Mountain/Asheville area of North Carolina.


Poetry by A.J. Huffman


My Little Guardian Lemur

Peach puffed pseudo-kisses.  “Squeeze me”
reads too obvious.  Here on a shelf
amidst six gallons of kitsch and silicon
suction(?) cups.  Chosen for fun and friendship
and finding:  new beginnings curl in your tail.
Google-eyed ghost grabber.  So silly
it all seems.  Then.  Now.  Later.  Whenever
weren’t we there?  And here, it all holds
the same:  old balance.  Regained?
Or, blessedly, never lost?


The Road to Productivity Road

starts with a number, a goal, a purpose to pursue

diligently and daily. Desire to achieve, to do

better propels you forward, blooms into a tangible

asset. Soon another is born, then another.

You become automaton, instinctively churning

ideas, pushing them down the assembly line,

bringing them to life.

A.J. Huffman has published sixth solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her seventh solo chapbook will be published in October by Writing Knights Press. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com



Authors Talk: Ned Vizzini

The author of titles such as It’s Kind of a Funny Story and, most recently, House of Secrets (co-author Chris Columbus), Ned Vizzini was more than happy to answer our question about what drives him to write.

Why do you write?

“I started writing for the reason George Orwell lists as #1: “sheer egoism.”

I’ve continued to write because I like making my own hours.

Also, besides Orwell, I’d like to quote James Hetfield from Metallica. He said something on Behind the Music to the effect of, “If I weren’t in this band, I’d be working at a gas station.” If I weren’t a writer, I would be a middling computer programmer. I don’t want to be that.”

Be sure to check out more of Ned Vizzini’s writing and to check back soon for more of the Authors Talk series!