Saturday, July 06, 2013
Liam James is up front, but fiftyish Steve Carell is "way back" in new comedy from Sundance
Canadian teen actor (is that Ontario?) Liam James was probably 16 when he played coming-of-age teen Duncan in “The Way, Way Back”, and he certainly dominates the entire film. He reminds me of earlier versions of Logan Lerman, Gregory Smith, and even Shia LaBeouf.
The film opens as he sits facing backwards in a van, driven by his divorced mother’s (Toni Collette) new “man friend”, Trent, played by Steve Carell, who taunts the boy over his apparent apathy.
Carell does not look good in the film. Remember, he was the “man-o-lantern” in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” in 2005, where he got his chest waxed on camera to impress a woman. I’ve always wondered why that would impress women. In any case, it still looks waxed (from what you can see), and his legs are going south, too. The film does demonstrate the perks of youth.
Allison Janney (“The West Wing”, “The Ice Storm”, not to be confused with Allison Jayne) plays Betty, the mother of a nerdy playmate for Duncan early on. But Duncan, in this little northeastern beach community, makes friends at a local water park, and finds his social bearings among all the odd characters there as he takes a summer job, unbeknownst to his mom. He learns dance moves, like Napoleon Dynamite (2004) – even break dancing.
The beach town is apparently Duxbury, MA. I stayed there one night with a family of a NYC friend in 1976, on the way to Mount Washington from Provincetown. I still remember that Labor Day Weekend.
The film is directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
The official site (Fox Searchlight and Rogue Pictures) is here.
I saw this film before a moderate audience late Friday night at the Angelika Mosaic in Merrifield, VA.
Wikipedia attribution link for Duxbury, MA beach picture.