Brian Henry Martin at the movies

The Slinky Dinky Movie Star

Published Thursday, 29 August 2013
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He's a pocket rocket performer who's nearly always the bridesmaid, never the bride. But as supporting actors go Sam Rockwell is a stand alone superstar.

Funny, fresh and rarely forgettable his roles may be secondary but his films are far from second string.

So it's no surprise that he closes the summer in style with an hilarious star turn as a zany water park manager in bittersweet comedy The Way Way Back. If you have been waiting for a movie that will make you laugh, cry, and painfully relive those awkward adolescent moments, you're in luck.

From the Oscar winning writers of The Descendants, Nat Faxon and James Rash, comes the low budget but highly enjoyable The Way Way Back. Their original screenplay is the witty and poignant coming of age story of troubled teenager Duncan's (Liam James) summer holiday with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin).

They hope that fun in the sun of a New England seaside resort will somehow make them a proper family. However, the plan begins to fall apart on the way there. "Let me ask you something" Trent quizzes the hapless Duncan "On a scale of one to ten. What are you?" After at first refusing to degrade himself with an under confident low score, Duncan reluctantly replies "A six". Trent downgrades him further "I think you are a three".

The forecast for Duncan's summer in the shadow of his unsupportive stepfather looks rather dismal.

Things look up when he falls for the girl next door, the sprightly Susanna (Anna-Sophia Robb), who describes their hellish holiday resort as "the spring break for adults". And she's not wrong, when over the 4th of July weekend, colourful fireworks are followed by clandestine affairs for the grown ups.

Finally fed up with his fractured family, the introverted Duncan forms an unlikely friendship with the extroverted Owen (Sam Rockwell), the wise-cracking boss of the Water Wizz theme park. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave" Owen playfully tells the gloomy teenager "You're having way too much fun and it's making everyone uncomfortable." He's kidding of course, but it's this fun-loving individual who snaps the unhappy Duncan out of the doldrums and kick starts his summer holiday.

Providing jolly backup is Betty (Allison Janney), the tanned slush next door who blurts one of the film's most memorable lines "She called me a See You Next Tuesday! To my face!" It's also strangely funny to see Steve Carrell in a straight role but his sleazy menace as the cruel Trent is painfully real.

But it is Sam Rockwell who once again makes the biggest splash with another sizzling supporting performance. Not only is he naturally funny, but he has the great ability to make every sharp line of dialogue sound freshly improvised.

So, play it again Sam.

The Long Way Way Back (Cert 12a) is now on general release

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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