Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 11, 2013
    80
    In a movie with uniformly outstanding performances, Rockwell, as ever, is especially good. So is Carell, playing against type. But what makes The Way, Way Back stand out is Faxon and Rash’s obvious familiarity with what Duncan is going through.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    Jul 10, 2013
    50
    That’s the central problem with The Way, Way Back – it’s more manipulative than truthful.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 4, 2013
    75
    The movie’s a minor pleasure rather than a major work. But minor pleasures have their place, especially in summertime, and at its best The Way, Way Back goes down like a popsicle on a hot July day.
  4. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    Sometimes you have to praise a movie backwards. In a season of clamorous action pictures, dopey comedies and grisly horrors, The Way Way Back is notable for what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t yank on your heartstrings, though you’ll be touched gently at last.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Zwecker
    Jul 3, 2013
    88
    Co-writers/directors Faxon and Rast have created a little gem of a film. Without question, The Way Way Back is the best coming-of-age movie of the summer and should be seen by audiences of all ages.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 4, 2013
    63
    The film's not as good as its cast, but The Way, Way Back has its moments.
  7. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Aug 26, 2013
    80
    A film for every age, whether you’re an awkward kid, former awkward kid or awkward kid-adjacent. Funny, real and uplifting. A film that reaffirms your belief in the human spirit.
  8. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Jun 26, 2013
    75
    There's something slightly formulaic and familiar about Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's coming-of-age film The Way, Way Back, but not enough to dampen its crowd-pleasing charm.
  9. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Feb 26, 2013
    75
    Faxon and Rush’s screenplay doesn’t deviate too far from formula, but their sturdy direction, bolstered by handsome production values, evokes a wistful sense of carefree summers and conjures up a potent amount of simmering teenage angst beneath the frequent chuckles.
  10. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Feb 26, 2013
    58
    Small touches point to a slightly better movie hiding beneath most of the routine, particularly the respectable finale that stops just short of the clichéd resolution expected of it. On the whole, however, The Way, Way Back dances to a tune we've heard too many times before.
  11. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jul 4, 2013
    100
    Authenticity gives the movie its witty, heartwarming, hopeful, sentimental, searing and relatable edge. It is merciless in probing the tender spots of times like these, and tough-guy sweet in patching up the wounds.
  12. 75
    The performances and the ready supply of one-liners make this an amusing look at a new generation getting lost down memory lane.
  13. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jul 18, 2013
    50
    The coming-of-age tale The Way, Way Back is sweet, heartfelt and utterly trite and predictable from beginning to end.
  14. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jul 19, 2013
    80
    The Way, Way Back is way, way good -- and a welcome breath of fresh air at the summertime box office.
  15. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 29, 2013
    100
    With his rapid-fire delivery and big heart, Rockwell makes Owen his version of “M*A*S*H”’s Hawkeye Pierce, but the film’s layers of well-observed truths go deeper than that.
  16. 50
    The story doesn’t feel dramatized. It feels pitched.
  17. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 4, 2013
    75
    The Way, Way Back is balanced, satisfying, wholesome. Dig in.
  18. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jul 3, 2013
    75
    The Way, Way Back isn't exactly memorable, and strictly speaking it would do just fine on a small screen. But unlike the glib "The Descendants," which is also about, it's smart, funny and moving about human weakness.
  19. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Jul 11, 2013
    75
    A sly, richly modulated, emotionally engaging, and brutally honest film.
  20. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jul 11, 2013
    83
    Co-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who won an Oscar for writing "The Descendants," are smart enough to mostly stay out the way and let this talented crew bring their script to life.
  21. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jul 16, 2013
    88
    It's funny, affecting, and appealing, and more worthy than much of what's out there. Often, coming-of-age stories rely forcefully on formulaic narrative developments but The Way Way Back remains fresh from start to finish.
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 8, 2013
    88
    The Way Way Back gets it wittily, thrillingly right. It turns the familiar into something bracingly fresh and funny. It makes you laugh, then breaks your heart.
  23. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 5, 2013
    80
    Beautifully executed, loaded with sharp observational moments, and never cheats either its characters or its audience by descending into raunchy teen-movie cliché. This is a delicately balanced and often very funny holiday alternative suitable for pretty much the entire family.
  24. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jun 29, 2013
    38
    Praises the electric carelessness of teenage angst while depicting it as if it were ultimately no more exciting, though no less pleasant, than an hour in the wave pool.
  25. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    Aiming for a middle path between drama and comedy, The Way Way Back is so overloaded with jokes that it could sink in the water hazard, but on the final scorecard, sure enough, it’s in the hole.
  26. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jul 17, 2013
    100
    The jokes are often double-edged, the performances always spot-on. The Way, Way Back doesn't re-invent the teenage turning point genre, but Faxon and Rash offer a breezy new spin. You'll see more inventive movies this year but few more endearing.
  27. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jul 3, 2013
    58
    Just about everyone and everything in The Way, Way Back feels programmed, as though the film were written using Mad Libs.
  28. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jul 10, 2013
    40
    There’s a potentially compelling story here about children of divorce and the tentative ways they set about forging their own relationships, but the filmmaking is too rudimentary to draw it out subtly.
  29. 50
    Like "Little Miss Sunshine," the movie stars Toni Collette and Steve Carell in a story about a dysfunctional family trip, though like "Adventureland," it’s really about a teenager finding acceptance at a local theme park.
  30. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Feb 26, 2013
    40
    There are plenty of comic moments...But The Way, Way Back is very rarely laugh-out-loud funny. Unfortunately, neither is it very involving.
  31. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Feb 26, 2013
    70
    Despite the familiarity of this setup, Way Back is a charmer, putting refreshingly little emphasis on Duncan's romantic needs and allowing family melodrama to erupt and simmer down without pat resolution.
  32. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jul 4, 2013
    60
    The Way, Way Back has the charm of timelessness but also more than a touch of triteness. Its situations and feelings seem drawn more from available, sentimental ideas about adolescence than from the perceptions of any particular adolescent.
  33. Reviewed by: Cory Everett
    Feb 26, 2013
    75
    Comedy is hard all on its own, but comedy that resonates is a rare thing indeed. So it’s admirable that Rash and Faxon are continuing to head down that path they started with “The Descendants,” even if this film isn’t quite as refined.
  34. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Jul 5, 2013
    70
    It is derivative and too deliberately zany, but still a heartfelt charmer.
  35. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Aug 27, 2013
    80
    This also marks what may be Allison Janney’s funniest performance to date: her cheerful, outspoken drunk next door is an absolute hoot.
  36. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Jul 2, 2013
    40
    Even by adolescence-is-hell standards, this poor sap is the embodiment of how ugly the so-called wonder years can be for some — a painful notion that’s as close as Faxon and Rash’s directorial debut comes to evoking an emotional response that hasn’t been sifted through dozens of nigh-identical films.
  37. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Aug 24, 2013
    80
    If the Collette/Carell reunion suggests Little Miss Sunshine, it’s not quite that crowd-pleasing. But, crafted with much TLC and sympathy, it’s perfectly tailored to the tongue-tied teen in us all.
  38. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Feb 26, 2013
    60
    The story of a teen desperate for a father figure who finds encouragement from a wild-and-crazy water-park employee -- rather than from the guy auditioning to be his stepdad -- can be explosively funny in parts, but overall feels pretty familiar, relying more on its cast than the material to win favor.
  39. Reviewed by: Staff [Not Credited]
    Jul 2, 2013
    60
    The Way, Way Back is a crowd-pleasing summer treat, predictable in its sweetness but satisfying all the same.
  40. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 4, 2013
    100
    It's a joyous movie, the best one I've seen in a very long time.
  41. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jul 5, 2013
    63
    Features one of the best endings in recent movie memory — and as we all know, endings are the hardest. If it takes some predictable twists and turns to get there, well then, accept it and move on.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 159 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. Aug 30, 2013
    10
    So 'The Way, Way Back' was just released in England, and because I'm a huge fan of 'Little Miss Sunshine' I checked it out. I wasn't disappointed. GREAT FILM! Absolutely hilarious, it found that perfect line between comedy and sad reflection, which 'Little Miss Sunshine' did so well, you can really feel the presence of the producers in this film which if you're in doubt of whether to see this film or not should reassure you.

    Acting wise the entire cast was great, I enjoyed seeing Carrell in a bad guy role, as he doesn't normally do that, essentially he is a "C U Next Tuesday" in this film, which is great, he performs the role perfectly. Sam Rockwell was brilliant. As were the rest of the cast not a single bad performance. A mesmerizing ensemble cast.

    All in all this was a great film, it is a great summer movie, I love that line where you can take a situation as either comedy or sadness, it makes the film more personal to the viewer, which this film is brilliant at. I love the way that when the film makes you sad it is always going to bring you back to being happy with hilarious scenes, dialogue and situation humor.

    INCREDIBLE FILM and a must see.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 19, 2014
    8
    One of those feel good films that everyone can relate to in some way. You can't help but feel bad for the kid sometimes and feel so overjoyed when something good happens. Basically, this movie connects you emotionally to this character and the character development is marvelous. And Sam Rockwell? I want to be his friend in real life. Brilliant. Full Review »
  3. Dec 4, 2013
    9
    Some movies are just meant to tell a little story and not be some big deal. That's all this was and it succeeded. If you can't relate to someone in this movie, well you live a nice life. OK, I would have given this an 8, but honest to dog, it made me cry a little. That never happens. Even the hokey predictable ending was satisfying. The story didn't spin off into some complex plot, it just moved along character-driven, illustrating the pitfalls of blending families. It's the first time I enjoyed Carell, he was believable for a change. I was so happy the kid met Rockwell, everyone needs an adult who isn't a parent. Full Review »