Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 146 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jul 17, 2013
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 8, 2013
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Aug 24, 2013
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jul 1, 2013
    The performances and the ready supply of one-liners make this an amusing look at a new generation getting lost down memory lane.
  5. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Feb 26, 2013
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Feb 26, 2013
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jun 29, 2013
    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.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Aug 3, 2013
    This movie was absolutely brilliant. It touches on your heart strings. The characters all had strong personalities except for the protagonist, which made him stand out the most. I could really feel the pain of the protagonist and the ending was fantastic. This movie is a must see. Expand
  2. Dec 4, 2013
    Perhaps the most beautiful film I've seen in a year. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It has the whole package. A great script, and not a single bad performance. Steve Carell plays the bad guy very well. Which is surprising, i didn't know he could pull it off. Sam Rockwell....well, rocks. Totally brilliant. And the rest of the cast are top-notch.

    I'm very glad that i checked out this movie. Coming-of-age stories are one of my favorite types of stories. And this movie should be watched by any fan of that kind.
  3. Aug 30, 2013
    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.
  4. Nov 7, 2013
    I really enjoyed this coming-of-age story. While the story of an awkward teenager coming out of his shell thanks to the wisdom of a glorified goofball/slacker is nothing really new, writers/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash made the film feel fresh and unique. The funny parts are really funny and the drama is blended perfectly to give the film a very human approach. Add in great performances from Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette and, most importantly, Sam Rockwell and you have the makings of a very endearing, very amusing movie. Expand
  5. Jun 9, 2014
    I can’t believe this movie isn’t popular with the teens.

    I loved how this movie, while is a teenage movie, also appeal to the adults
    without being chessy.

    In fact, this isn’t a romantic movie at all. This is a movie about enjoying things you never thought you would enjoy.

    I relate to the main character Duncan. I don’t blame him for being such a smug because the people around him are a bunch of scum anyway.

    I didn’t expect A-list cast in this movie. It’s great seeing them collaborating in this movie because they did such a wonderful job portraying their roles. The direction was great too.

    The themes in the movie did a good job without romanticizing it. I guess that’s why it’s not popular with the teens because we teenagers are hopeless romantics.

    Lastly, the script was brilliant. You need a good script to make a good movie. And I am so relived to know the same scriptwriters directed the movie.

    Overall, while it’s something I would not watch again for a long time, I would recommend everyone to watch this movie if they want to be happy for just two hours.
  6. Jan 25, 2014
    Director debut from Oscar-winning writer-duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (THE DESCENDANTS 2011, 8/10), a diffident but sensitive 14-year-old boy Duncan (James) unwillingly spends the summer vacation with his mother Pam (Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Carell) in a beach house where he cannot fit in and is constantly under strains with the domineering Trent, coincidentally he forms a bond with Owen (Rockwell), a happy-go-lucky clerk in the local water land “Water Whizz”, after clandestinely takes a part-time job there, Duncan experiences the time of his life and the dreary summer does’t seem to be so unbearable.

    Opens with Steve Carell drives a revamped station wagon, Collette is asleep in the passenger’s seat, James sits in the way back seat facing backward, plus we foreknow a blue-chip ensemble with Rockwell, Janney, Peet, Rudolph and Robb, is it another deletable family confection like LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006, 9/10)? The very first conversation between Trent and Duncan shatters this speculation, Duncan has a rough road in this summer retreat, soon it turns out his presumable step-father is not only a pathological doctrinaire, but a two-timing sleaze-bag. The discordance also arises between Duncan and Pam, a typical miscommunication between a mother and her teenage son, Pam is an escapist seeks for protection under the roof of a marriage and is willingly to blindly ignore any snags on her way, but Duncan is a disgruntled son never understand why she cannot find someone better.
    The novice Liam James utterly suits the wallflower sort, his self-emancipation route pans out nicely and he balances a fine line between sympathy and ebullience.

    Supporting players galore, Duncan gets closer with Susanna (Robb), the next-door girl whose mother Betty (Janney) is a vexing garrulous boozehound, the amiable attachment between Duncan and Susanna is handled with care, realistic and never go overboard. Amanda Peet is perpetually underused as the third wheel old flame and a well-tanned Steve Carell assumes the villain role with dead seriousness with Zoe Levin as his haughty daughter, a bad exemplar of the ugly facet of our young generation. Collette accomplishes the duck soup with tangible nuances as a mother stuck in a morass.

    But the most enthralling and funny part of the film is certainly located in Water Whizz, Rockwell is at the top his game with almost ad lib ambidexterity of spontaneity and sincerity, it is not so often to watch him engage in an otherwise mono-layer character, he is so ready for more awards recognition. Rash and Naxon also participate in the film and generate laughters as two buffoonish co-workers.

    The film comes to the end as nothing ever happened, the hurtful truth, the unpleasant kerfuffle, Duncan has found his happy place but has to move on, however the positive message spreads from the very last scene renders viewers a firm conviction, life sucks, nevertheless, we can progress, even with baby steps.
  7. Nov 27, 2013
    There are good movies, bad movies, and movies so south of bad that I had to walk out early on. It's so much worse than terrible that it was painful to sit through the "humor." I don't know whether to be more surprised that only two users rated it negative or that so many people liked it. I am certainly surprised that Andrew O'Heir gave it 80. Basically you have parents who treat their children terribly, which isn't funny, and running gags like unsuccessful lazy eye surgery that really isn't funny. Add to that the fact that Janney either has no flair for comedy or her director has no talent for comedy, or both. Expand

See all 32 User Reviews