The Way Way Back is the best overall movie of the summer. This coming of age story about a boy trying to traverse the canyon between boyhood and manhood will leave you moved and thankful for quitter summer films. This movie is not to be missed.
This movie has so much to say about the difficulties in the modern world for boys to become men. With the divorce rate through the roof and may boys growing up without a strong male figures in their lives, the art of manhood is dying. Manhood is not something that is learned so much as it is passed on. Duncan, the main character in the movie, comes from a divorced family. He is shy and reserved. His mother’s boyfriend sees this as a weakness and calls him out on it, telling him that out of a ten, Duncan is a three. Duncan is struggling with the responsibility of being the man in the family and yet having no one to teach him how to be that man. It is a haunting reminder the struggle that boys without fathers face everyday.
Duncan is also suffering from not having someone believe in him. He lacks not only that strong father-figure, but also someone to believe in him. He finds that in Owen, an arrestedly developed manager of the local water park. Owen treats Duncan like a winner from the beginning. He pulls the goodness and manliness out of Duncan by supplying him with unconditional support and love. It is a beautiful picture of the need that we all have for someone to know us and love us, warts and all. Duncan has needed someone to be by his side, on his side, encouraging him and Owen fills in beautifully. There is in all of us the desire and need for people to stand by us no matter what, to be able to count on them, even when we fail over and over. Owen shows Duncan grace and helps him see the strength within to move forward with his life. In the strangest way, Owen empowers Duncan to find his way into manhood.
This movie is a rare summer gem, heartfelt and the perfect antidote to explosions.