Summertime Blues: Carrell, Collette And Others Make Their Vacation Awkward In ‘The Way, Way Back’ Trailer

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

If you were asked to compile a dream cast for an indie comedy, who would make your list? Maybe Steve Carrell, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and Amanda Peet?

If so, congratulations – your dreams are a reality for the producers of "The Way, Way Back," a new coming-of-age comedy going into limited release on July 5. The film is the first directorial project for Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the Oscar-winning team who co-wrote "The Descendants," and the first trailer suggests this movie will have the same balance of humor and emotional honesty that made that movie a hit.

"The Way, Way Back" has already picked up plenty of buzz, partly for its cast and partly because of its wildly enthusiastic reception when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The movie's first showing received a standing ovation, and Fox Searchlight quickly snapped up distribution rights for a cool $10 million.

While "The Way, Way Back" is filled with well-known names, the leading man is up and coming Liam James, a young actor who was a regular on "Psych" and is currently part of the cast of "The Killing." In "The Way, Way Back," he plays Duncan, a fourteen-year-old boy who is having one of the worst summers of his life. His divorced mother Pam (Toni Collette) has decided they’re spending the summer at a beachside community with her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Introverted Duncan doesn't like being away from home, especially with Trent, a self-centered blowhard; when Trent demands Duncan evaluate himself on a scale of one to ten, Duncan modestly rates himself a six, while Trent replies that Duncan is more like a three.

Things get a little less agonizing for Duncan when he visits the nearby Water Wizz amusement park, and strikes up a friendship with thirty-something Owen (Sam Rockwell), a brash self-styled ladies' man who works at the park. Owen tries to help Duncan improve his self-image and offers some advice on impressing the opposite sex, which comes in handy when he develops a crush on Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb, currently starring on "The Carrie Diaries"), whose family is staying in the cabin next door.

In addition to writing and directing, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash both act in "The Way, Way Back" as well; Faxon was Ben on the short-lived sit-com "Ben and Kate," while Rash plays Dean Pelton on "Community." Judging from the trailer, they've given the picture a tone that's genuinely funny while capturing the emotional peaks and valleys of adolescence. And Faxon and Rash have given some of the cast the chance to effectively play against type. Carrell sets aside his awkward nice-guy persona to portray a man who is confident but has little concern for the feelings of others, and Janney, usually cast as starchy, emotionally uptight characters, seems to be having a ball as the often tipsy and inappropriate neighbor Betty. Film fans will get a chance to see if "The Way, Way Back" lives up to its reputation when it arrives in theaters in July.

Check out the trailer below: