There's a lot that's not equal when you are a kid, I remember that and you probably do too. For that matter there is a lot that is not equal and fair when you are an adult - even if the rules seem to be different for adults when you are young.. Is life what you make of it; or is it, life.. what it makes of you?
The Way, Way Back is a well crafted, dialogue driven comedic drama about the changing life of 14 year old Duncan played by Liam James and his mum Pam played by Aussie actor Toni Collette. Pam in her first post-divorce relationship seems blissfully unaware of boyfriend Trent's (Steve Carell) passive aggressive role in Duncan's life as they embark on a family blending summer holiday at Trent's beach house, along with Trent's daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) who is also in tow. Duncan clearly is not too hot on the idea and any doubt is soon erased when Trent asks him how he would rate himself on a "scale of one to ten". Duncan does not want to respond but after Trent's cajoling delivers a verdict of "6" which, Trent promptly downgrades to a "3".
The tone is set.. it's going to be a long and difficult summer.
Beautifully filmed though not to the point of overtaking the drama, this 'beach community' really could be anywhere; providing the ideal 'coming of age' summer location where Writer/Director team Jim Rash and Nat Faxon get right to the nub of just what is it about human relationships? Fortunately they do this with a sense of humour, great writing and great acting from their highly talented cast all of whom seem made-to-order for their roles making it very easy to relate to the characters and their situations.
On arriving at this beach retreat both Duncan and his Mum are confronted by the morals of the affluent, status, love, acceptance and rejection – all come into play as the newcomers are forced to negotiate this tight-knit beach community.. which for Duncan has clear perils at every turn and seemingly no way to escape.
Fortunately life gets a lot more interesting and positive for Duncan after he finds a pink-girls-push-bike (well how could it be otherwise!) and starts cycling around the the neighbourhood. This new freedom allows him to steer well clear of the vain and stuck-up local bourgeoisie beach kids and the neighbours son who is busy experiencing his own 'youth issues' – mostly relating to his always-drink-in-hand mother Betty's humorous but unfeeling take on his 'lazy' eye..
It doesn't take Duncan too long, filmically speaking, to find his way to the 'Water Wizz water park' and into the close orbit of left-field right-out-there park manger (owner? We never know) Owen; superbly played by Sam Rockwell. Owen first appears on-screen driving his car (and seen by Duncan from behind) as the Trent and Pam carload arrive in town; and again, at a very typical beach-type milk bar; where Owen is watched by Duncan as he plays that vintage video classic PAC-MAN, very badly indeed - and loving it; and not at all interested in any playing tips from Duncan about improving his game.
From the moment they meet again at the water park Owen takes Duncan under his wing, and life begins to change for the better as Duncan learns that there is more than one way to look at life. There are many enjoyable and humorous filmic moments at the water-park; all of them dressed up in an affectionate kind of 80's dagginess. One of my favourites of the many wonderful scenes there is when Owen sends Duncan, now a Water Wizz employee to “get the cardboard” to break up a group of break-dancers and the accompanying crowd. It looks to the park staff that 14 year old Duncan is heading for a creaming that will prove that Owen is completely irresponsible in just about everything that he does at Water Wizz water park.. I won't spoil the outcome of this episodic event other than to say everyone learns something by the end and there are some great laughs too!
But the water park is only open during the day and nights belong to adults, dinner parties and running through the dunes; or as the jaded Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb – who looks astonishingly like a blond mean-girl - Lindsay lohan type) astutely observes to the Duncan, “It’s like spring break for adults”. Susana who has rejected the shallow peer group, becomes interested enough in Duncan's changing spirit to follow him on her own bike; to the water park where his new found status and confidence in himself are fully revealed, especially his handling of Owen's intervention after seeing the two together in what would have have surely been yet another humiliation in Duncan's past life; but not Not now. Not this time – no way!
It's a great film, I loved it and my friend who joined me at the preview thoroughly enjoyed it too. It tugs at the heart strings and some will have tears in their eyes and it will most likely have you laughing out loud.
Of course the film does not end with Duncan finding life happy-ever-after at the water park – he's just 14 after all. The movie's emotional crescendo occurs at a night-time party with revelations that change everything for everyone.. Maybe 'growing up' is something that never really ends.
Nothing is skated over about adult life in this film and if you are taking young teens to see it you may well need to do some tricky explaining about some of the situations where, no punches are pulled. As I said before, I loved 'The Way, Way back' and felt that it works on many levels. If your looking for an engaging, amusing and entertaining film, well I can highly recommend it.
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And this being Street Fashion Sydney - and Street Fashion Sydney being who we are.. this would not be over until we showed you a bit of the Sydney Style of those who also had the privilege of attending the advance screening.. And here they are.
Street Fashion Sydney - shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1
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