The Way Way Back Blu-ray Review (Kirk Haviland)

the-way-way-back-international-poster-02Starring: Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Alison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon.

Written and Directed by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon

2013 has proven to be a strong year for coming of age dramas with The Spectacular Now, The Kings of Summer and what proves to be the best of the bunch, The Way Way Back. The film from comedy veterans Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, Academy Award winners for their writing on The Descendants, is a heart wrenching and heart-warming story of an incredibly shy and downtrodden young teen finding his voice with the help of a slacker water park worker that may be the only true father figure he’s ever had.

THE WAY, WAY BACKWhile 14-year-old Duncan (James) is being dragged on a family trip with his mom Pam (Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend Trent (Carell), he finds a gregarious friend (Rockwell) at a local water park. The two form a powerful bond as Duncan spends days away from the chaotic and drunken misadventures of his mom and Trent’s friends on ‘adult spring break’ (including Janney, Peet and Corddry). Through the blistering days of summer spent working in the park, Duncan emerges from his shell and even forms a bond with the girl of his dream (Robb).

The Way Way Back is almost pitch perfect and feels very organic in tone. Derived mainly from events and happenings from Rash and Faxon’s own childhoods, the film never feels out of sorts or unrealistic even during its most colorful flourishes and excursions thanks to the grounding the writer/directors set their characters up with. James is perfect as the put upon Duncan, from the opening sequence with the slyly devious Trent proclaiming him a ‘3 out of 10’ to his triumphant final moments, James embodies the petrified kid in all of us, just starting to dare step into the limelight. Aping Bill Murray from Meatballs and Walter Matthau’s classic Morris Buttermaker from the Bad News Bears, Rockwell shines as Owen, the man-child so desperate to move forward that he keeps himself stuck in a loop and the ones he loved seem doomed to orbit around him.

the-way-way-back-liam-james-annasophia-robbThe rest of the cast is set perfectly as well as there is not a performance that hits a sour note throughout. Particularly strong are Robb in a more adult role than what we are accustomed to see her play, Rudolph in a sparse yet hilarious turn as Owen’s girlfriend and Collette’s Pam shows an understated sense of desperation and strength that grows throughout the film. Carell nearly steals the entire film though, playing a slime bag of the upmost contempt, a role that he pulls of so well yet is nothing like anything he has ever played before.

The Blu-ray comes equipped with a full making of feature, deleted scenes and a handful of featurettes including a tour of the water park, a history of Jim and Nat and another on the ensemble on screen in the film.


the-way-way-back-film-film-reviews21The Way Way back is the type of film that is easy to revisit, and revisit often, and like the coming of age films of past decades like the Goonies, Clueless and even the recent Easy A, will likely stay that way for decades to come. The Way Way Back is very strong recommend.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

Follow me directly on twitter @moviejunkieto and by liking my Facebook page at Movie Junkie TO

Email me at

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Review (Kirk Haviland)

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Derek Luke and Martin Sheen

Written and Directed by Lorene Scafaria

For the second week in a row, this time coming from Entertainment One (eone), we get another piece of summer blockbuster counter programming that is a quirky oddball romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist. After last week’s time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed we get a film about the end of the world as it literally states in the title, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Safety was a film that worked because it didn’t get buried under its own quirkiness, can Seeking do the same?

As the film opens we discover that the world will end in 21 days due to the last attempt at derailing an inbound meteor failing. We see Dodge (Carell) and his wife sitting in a parked car listening to the news on the radio trying to come to grips with the consequences of this announcement, when Dodge’s wife bursts out of the car and runs away, never to be seen again. Dodge tries to carry on with his normal daily routine, he goes to work and is offered a raise as most of the higher ups have left, trying to maintain a hold on his sanity. His friends Diane and Warrens’(Britton and Corddry) host a simple “last dinner”, which devolves into a free-for-all with drugs, underage drinking, and inappropriate sexual advances. Dodge heads home where his solitude is interrupted by the sobbing of Penny (Knightley) on his balcony. After inviting Penny in, the pair pass out in front of the television. Dodge walks Penny back to her place where she gives him the mail that she had mistakenly received over the last 3 years! Amongst the mail is a handwritten letter from Dodge’s long lost first love where she professes he’s always been her true love. The letter, combined with a riot, make Dodge and Penny road trip partners, at the expense of her ex-boyfriend Owen (a very funny Brody). Penny agrees to take Dodge to meet up with the lost love from the letter while Dodge agrees to get Penny back home to England as all flights have been cancelled but he knows a pilot who can do it. Much happens along the way as the road trip twists and turns and we meet other characters including another of Penny’s exes (Luke) and a slew of stand-up comedians in supporting roles.

The story behind Seeking a Friend for the End of the World may not be that original (romantic comedy road trip), but the script is smart and funny. Carell and Knightley both perform admirably here. Carell’s comedic timing and Knightley’s quirky adorableness are on full display, but the chemistry between the two is a little forced. You know where the story is heading for the most part between the two, but you never truly feel the two of them fully earn the payoff for their shared story. The surrounding cast really works well though, including very funny turns from comedians Britton, Corddry, Patton Oswalt, TJ Miller and others. Also, Martin Sheen lends some pathos to a role I will not spoil here. Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria’s script is smart enough to keep us interested and entertained throughout.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World may not fully succeed with the relationship of it two leads, but thankfully it has a lot more going for it. Seeking is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto.

Follow me on twitter @moviejunkieto

Contact me at

Powered by

Up ↑