7 Things Parents Need to Know About The Way, Way Back

10 Things Parents Columns Movies


1. What’s this movie about?

The Way, Way Back, a reference to the rear-facing seat in the very back of a station wagon, is a funny and very enjoyable coming of age story. Fourteen-year-old introverted Duncan is spending the summer at the beach with his mom and her jerk of a boyfriend. Duncan’s having a tough time fitting in, so he ends up seeking employment — and friends — at the local water park. Slowly, Duncan finds out more about who he is, all while having the summer of his life. The movie opens today in limited release and will gradually open nationwide over the month of July.

2. Who’s in it?

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who won an Oscar for the adapted screenplay for The Descendants, wrote and directed The Way, Way Back and assembled a pretty amazing cast. While Liam James is a bit of a newcomer in the role of Duncan, the rest of the ensemble cast is made up of Hollywood veterans. Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, and Maya Rudolph all do great jobs in their roles, but Rockwell and Janney each steal the show in their own ways.

3. Will I like it?

I absolutely loved this movie. It’s filled with nostalgia, acted by a great cast, and is very funny. Duncan is a good kid, and through his awkwardness and nerdiness, characteristics that a lot of geeks will be able to identify with, The Way, Way Back begins to feel a bit autobiographical for many of us. Sam Rockwell, as the water park manager, Owen, plays the best and funniest summer mentor since Bill Murray’s Tripper in Meatballs and keeps the laughs rolling almost every time he’s on the screen. Allison Janney is the politically incorrect lush from next-door who deals almost as many laughs as Rockwell.

In a summer full of CGI-laden action movies and cute, animated films, The Way, Way Back sticks out for its simplicity. It’s just a comedy, but it may be the sleeper hit of the summer. At times, it’s a bit tender and sad (and a bit silly), but, above all else, it is sweet and wonderful… I can’t wait to see it again.

4. Will my kids like it?

Older kids will probably enjoy it; Duncan’s story about trying to find his place in life and dealing with his parents is one that many can identify with. However, some of the material might be a tad inappropriate, both in content and relatability, for younger kids. My feeling is that the older kids are, the more they will understand and enjoy the film. If you’re unsure if it’s OK for your kids, be sure to read the next answer…

5. Why is it rated PG-13?

As a parent, there’s not any particular scene that’s overly cringe-worthy. Still, there are some elements and themes that you should be aware of. It’s a beach movie, so there’s a lot of drinking by the adults (and beer-stealing by kids), including one adult character who appears to be drunk quite often. One scene involves a reference to smoking marijuana and another few scenes deal with infidelity. There are other sexual themes and some profanity, too.

6. When’s the best time for a bathroom break?

There are a couple of occasions when it’s good to get away: when Duncan takes his first water slide ride and then, later, after the “special tradition” at the water park party. Both these moments provide a chance to get away without missing too much of the plot.

7. Do I need to stick around and watch the credits?

Nope. When the movie ends and the credits roll, there’s no reason to stick around, unless you’re curious about the cast and crew.

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