|Why so glum, chum?|
It's a special Thursday edition of The Hideaway's Friday Film Fest!
From where HERC sits, a little over half way back from the screen, this has not been a good Summer movie season. Movies he looked forward to seeing like Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby were very disappointing. (And don't even get HERC started on the lame R.I.P.D. or even lamer The Lone Ranger.) There were a couple of mild laughers (The Heat, The Internship) but they were far from their respective stars best work, mere shadows of the combustible comedic chemistry they are known for. There were also some pleasant mindless surprises like Red 2 and Now You See Me that saved the Summer from being a wash-out, with the scarce commodities of time and money gone down the drain.
And then there were the movies that helped to erase the memories of those lesser films, great movies like Man Of Steel, Star Trek: Into Darkness and, today's featured film, The Way Way Back.
Originally titled "The Way Back" (the name was changed to avoid confusion with a previously released, same titled Colin Farrell movie) and set in 1985, The Way Way Back was co-written, co-directed and co-stars Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, the Academy Award winning screenwriting duo that penned The Descendants. Jim is immediately recognizable as Dean Pelton from Community while Nat portrayed the titular Ben on Ben and Kate, a cancelled Fox show from last fall. Due to cost concerns, the script was moved up to current day but a few artifacts remain from the original 1985 version of the script.
The great story is brought to life via great performances from the cast: Liam James (who played young Shawn on early episodes of psych) plays 14 year old, solemn faced, slumped shouldered Duncan (seen at top of post) while Toni Collette plays his recently divorced mother. Steve Carrell is her character's new boyfriend, a used car salesman whom Duncan does not like. Allison Janney plays Betty, the summer house next door neighbor, a divorcee with two kids. One of those kids is played by The Carrie Diaries' AnnaSophia Robb, who brings just the right amount of teen girlishness to the role of Susanna, the older girl who tries to bring Duncan out of his shy shell. Sam Rockwell, the cool-walking smooth-talking villain Eric Knox from the first Charlie's Angels film, portrays Owen, the father figure who befriends Duncan at the water park where he both lives and works. The wonderful and uniquely beautiful Maya Rudolph is Owen's girlfriend and co-worker. Jim Rash and Nat Faxon both provide comic support as their fellow water park workers.
Although it starts off quiet and slow and doesn't really build too much from there, The Way Way Back is an intimate film that rewards your attention with several feel-good life affirming moments throughout. You will identify with one or more of the characters regardless of your age or gender. It is rated PG-13 rather than R so it maintains a sweetness, a sense of innocence despite sexual content and drug use. HERC gives it his highest rating and will definitely pick it up on home video when it is released in October.
A movie this good deserves a great soundtrack and music supervisor Linda Cohen delivers. There are exactly six songs heard in the film that HERC knew beforehand:
- Kyrie - Mr. Mister
- Young Blood - UFO
- New Sensation - INXS
- Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley - Robert Palmer
- Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
- Holding Out For A Hero - Bonnie Tyler
Four of them are included on the fifteen song soundtrack album - those last two are not performed by the original artists in the movie but rather by cast members. HERC counted twenty-seven songs in the movie but was only able to round up twenty-one of them via Spotify. While not quite as ground-breaking or career-making as the soundtrack to say Empire State, this album is worth more than a few listens.
The catchiest tune in the bunch so far for HERC is Eli Paperboy Reed's "Recess" although he has enjoyed this playlist more than a dozen times in the past six days. He will definitely be exploring the featured artists' other stuff.
A familiar name is Edie Brickell, of "What I Got" (1988) fame. She has been married to singer/songwriter Paul Simon for more than 20 years and never really stepped too far away from music. Her two contributions with the Gaddabouts bookend the soundtrack album. Her latest release is a album with banjoist Steve Martin (above), who's also a master Tweetsman. Looking forward to further exploring Edie's two albums as a member of the Gaddabouts, a supergroup of Brickell, Pino Palladino, Steve Gadd and Andy Fairweather-Low.
Here are some other songs from the soundtrack to check out: