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A lot of films sold for some pretty good money at this year's Sundance Film Festival, but none for quite so much-- and quite so much attention-- as The Way Way Back, a comedy from the Oscar-winning co-writers of The Descendants, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. The duo also make their directorial debut on the film, a nostalgia-filled story about a teenage boy's summer spent avoiding his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend (Steve Carell) by taking a job at a rundown water park. When I saw the film at Sundance to see if it lived up to the hype I warned people to lower their expectations, while also loving Sam Rockwell's performance enough to promise he's worth the trip.
You can see a bit of Rockwell in the film's first trailer, which premiered at Apple and shows off what's probably the movie's best asset: the cast. Newcomer Liam James has the most screen time, naturally, since he's the main character who guides us through the film, but there's plenty of focus on Little Miss Sunshine alums Collette and Carell, plus Allison Janney, who gives Rockwell a run for the film's best performance. You can get brief glimpses of Faxon and Rash in there, each of them familiar from roles on Ben & Kate and Community, and playing employees of the run-down water park that Rockwell is barely managing.
Set for a July 5 release, and coming from Fox Searchlight-- the people who made hits of Sundance favorites like Juno and (500) Days of Summer-- The Way Way Back has all the makings of the next indie hit. If it's what finally makes Rockwell a bona fide star, it will be worth its slightly more underwhelming parts.