Currently playing in theaters is the wonderful indie film, The Way Way Back, Directed and Written by Nat Faxon (The Descendants). It's a funny, poignant coming of age story about an awkward 14 year old boy named Duncan (Liam James) who starts to come into his own over Summer vacation. He is traveling with his mother (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carell) and his insufferable teenage daughter. It doesn't take long before Duncan begins to feel like the outcast of the bunch, as his mother's boyfriend picks on him relentlessly with his mother standing idly by. His father has apparently taken off to start a new life in California with his new wife, leaving Duncan without a true father figure to help him find his way into manhood.
While trying to avoid spending time with the family, Duncan makes a friend in angsty, but pretty, neighbor Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb). They share much in common, but not being used to dealing with girls, he clumsily struggles to keep up with conversation. It isn't until he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell) that he begins to find the confidence boost he needs. Owen is the juvenile, yet kindhearted, owner of a local waterpark who gives Duncan a job, while offering him the mentorship he is lacking. The experience brings about self discovery and a bit of happiness in the midst of chaos.
The thing I loved most about this movie was its focus on the importance of a good man in a boy's life. I think sometimes we overlook this necessity and forget the impact an absent father can have on a young man. How life-changing it can be when someone is willing to step up and be a mentor and friend in their absence. The teen years are a particularly tender age, but while female sensitivity is understood, we can forget that boys are sensitive in their own ways, though they may not be as vocal. Rather, they often become introverted.
Another notable theme to the movie is that people are not always who they appear to be. Sometimes those who seem to have it all together are a mess and sometimes the people who look like a mess are the ones who are more in tune with reality. Everyone has a story and it's best to examine all the facts before passing judgement.
Along with these wonderfully touching themes, this film is not without its humor and romance. There are many fun moments which make it the perfect summer film you will want to watch again and again. It is shaping up to be one of the best movies of the year, so if you love great writing and acting, be sure to catch this one in the theater while you can...because like the Summer, it may be gone before you know it!