The Way, Way Back gives us very little substance with its occasional bits of hilarity, but ultimately succeeds (if lightly) due to its charming cast. Sam Rockwell delivers one of his best performances as the manager of a waterpark who takes in Duncan (Liam James), a 14-year old kid who is troubled by his mother’s (Toni Collette) new relationship with Trent (Steve Carell). Duncan meets a girl named Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), who lives next door at the beach house they stay at for the summer. There aren’t many complexities here; outside of some biting jokes that occasionally dig into these characters, they’re simply developed and woefully underwritten at times. Faxon and Rash have written a brilliant script (The Descendants in 2011), but their directorial debut, while funnier, lacks the analysis of character their former held. This is a solid, likable film, primarily due to its cast, but it’s woefully forgettable and too easy on its characters.
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