This is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story that really ended up getting to me. The movie, although it has a familiar plot, succeeds with great performances, direction, and it never strays from the realism that it immerses you in. This movie was a pleasant surprise in a summer filled with loud, explosive movies and it honestly helped remind me of what some of my favorite movies are like, things that reflect reality and provide something that not only entertains you, but shows you something meaningful and reflective on different aspects of life.
The movie goes along a typical coming-of-age path of a boy, Duncan (played by Liam James), going with his mother and her jerk of boyfriend (Steve Carell) to his summer home, and the opening scene from Steve Carell is done so well and probably one of the best scenes I have seen in a movie so far this year. Speaking of Steve Carell he gives such a different performance from what you are used to seeing of him and does it so well, there are parts of his character that just seem menacing (in a realistic sort of way) and even more so when you can think of a person in your life who is just like Carell's character and people in the same situation as Duncan, and you can't help but feel sorry for him after just the first scene.
During the movie Duncan meets Sam Rockwell's character, Owen, and that is where the plot picks up and you see how Duncan's life is affected by one man who has sympathy, and heart to try and help in his own character's kind of way. By the way, Sam Rockwell is also excellent in the movie (as was Liam James who was a child/teen actor who could hold his own weight) and delivers the life and charm to it, without him the movie would go from a bitter-sweet comedy to something depressing and no where near as good. Watching Sam Rockwell's character work with James' was great and delivered some of the best parts of the movie (as did the scenes between Carell and James, but in a completely different kind of way).
There is also Annasophia Robb's character who also does a great job in the movie, and what I like is how they dealt with the character (who is a sort-of a romantic interest) in the end, it helped to stray away from the norm and something that you may have been predicting.
This entire movie could have been extremely cheesy and bad with the given plotline, but instead it makes something funny, heartfelt, and special. Although there were a couple small parts of the movie that I wasn't huge on they were only small, the performances were great and real, and the movie did a great job at taking a familiar formula and making it work nearly perfectly. I have seen a lot of movies this year and this is the second one that got a real emotional reaction out of me. I'll go real high for this and give The Way Way Back a 9.2/10.
9.2/10 Sticks of Bamboo