Believe it or not, Ben Fox (Nat Faxon) from Ben and Kate and Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) from Community are Oscar-winning screenwriters; the two have reunited for their directing debut, The Way, Way Back. Fox Searchlight acquired their picture for $10 million at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and has scheduled it to serve as blockbuster counter-programming during the Fourth of July holiday frame.
The trailer focuses on the film’s humor and characters – brought to life by award-winning actors like Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths), Allison Janney (Juno), Toni Collette and her Little Miss Sunshine costar Steve Carell – while also covering the basics of its “one unforgettable summer” storyline.
Fixon and Rash won their Academy Awards for co-writing The Descendants with Alexander Payne, but their newest project seems to approach the coming of age concept from a more conventional angle; namely, through the eyes of 14-year old Duncan (Liam James) and his experiences working at a water amusement park during the hottest days of the year. There are funny moments sprinkled throughout the trailer, and the casting decisions (in particular, Carell playing against type as the antagonist of the film) help in elevating the generic story above being just another quirky and wistful look back at adolescence.
So far, The Way, Way Back seems to fall somewhere between the non-sugar coated examinations of youth in films like Stand By Me and Adventureland, and the gentler perspectives on young life and love in movies like Flipped (which our Vic Holtreman loved). The only problem is that by going for a mix of poignance and sweetness, Faxon and Rash’s film might end up stuck in the middle ground, unable to leave more than a funny, yet fleeting, impression. We’ll see, of course.
Rounding out the Way, Way Back cast are AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia), Amanda Peet (Identity Thief), Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies), Maya Rudolph (SNL) and Rash and Faxon.
The Way, Way Back opens in theaters on July 5th, 2013.