My special special lady and I are up in Provincetown for a few days and we caught The Way Way Back on the spur of the moment because that’s how we roll when we are on our own and sans spawn. I’d never even heard of this one, but it turns out it was filmed in nearby Wareham, MA. It’s a sweet little Slice of Age/Coming of Life movie, boosted by some funny writing and a great cast, especially Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, and Maya Rudolph. It also reinforces my suspicion that Sam Rockwell has a rider in his contract that he must dance in every movie in which he appears.
One persistently odd note in the movie is that it feels like it was supposed to be set in about 1980 but is actually set in present day. Except for the occasional cell phone, every other detail of the movie — from the way the teenagers speak and act to the decor of the houses to the music — felt rooted in the late ’70s/early 80s. I suspect that the filmmakers, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who also wrote the last Alexander Payne movie, The Descendants), originally set the movie in the eighties but half-heartedly adapted it to a current setting for cost and/or accessibility issues.
There’s one odd moment of misogyny that is strangely incongruous with the rest of the movie: a dude (played by Nat Faxon, one of the writer/directors) keeps a young girl standing at the top of a water slide so she can be ogled by a trio of dudes. What’s creepy about the scene is not that they’re checking her out (it’s a water park, after all) but that he keeps her standing there long after it’s become obvious what they’re doing (which raises a weird power dynamic) and that the girl’s face is never shown — she’s literally just a lithe body with no pesky emotions attached.
We also saw the trailer for Unfinished Song, which I’m convinced was written by a computer using every tired and overused trope of every feel-good “inspirational” piece art-house fodder from the last 15 years.
Let’s see, a grouchy curmudgeon who needs to be taught to love again? Check. Delightfully naughty old farts singing rock and roll songs? Check. “I can’t change! It’s too late!”? Check. Terrence Stamp, I know you’ve got to pay the rent just like everybody else, but you’re way, way better than this drivel.