The Way, Way Back 2.0 stars

Summertime, and the living is horribly painful and awkward, because you're a pouty-slouchy teenager (Liam James) stuck riding in the titular seat of your mom's boyfriend's restored station wagon on the way to his rented beach house for a month of inarticulate misery. Your mom (Toni Collette)? She's lonely and frightened. Your mom's boyfriend (Steve Carell)? He's well-meaning, but kind of an overbearing jerk. (And maybe not such a good guy, despite his good intentions.) Your romantic prospects? Let's not even discuss those. Just thank God for Owen (Sam Rockwell), the wisecracking, sympathetic water park employee that every lonely young man wishes would show up and show him the ropes. Co-writers and co-directors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon do a good job with the feeling and the place, even as they bounce between delicately blunted emotionality and broad parents-being-bad humor. With Allison Janney, Rob Corddry, AnnaSophia Robb. 2013.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments

Dragonfly Dec. 16, 2013 @ 7:23 a.m.

Something like an episode of The Wonder Years, but without that show's wit or storytelling efficiency. Allison Janney has fun as the floozy neighbor and Toni Collette is adept as the boy's mother, but they're the only adults in sight. The climactic scene, about which the moviegoer is no doubt supposed to feel some excitement, where two people emerge from a tube in reverse order of that going in, is perhaps the worst piece of filmmaking I've endured all year. Let the scriptwriters work out their childhood traumas on their own time.

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