January 18, 2014

Movies for Men and Boys: The Way, Way Back

This review of the film, The Way, Way Back, was contributed by Brian Mier, a Men's and Boys’ Health Promoter with Eagle Health Resources in Melbourne, Australia.

Ultimately, The Way, Way Back is a joyful movie. Generally, the critics gave it a favorable rating, but those of us with a passion for man-making with boys will understand the deeper beauty in what is, at times, a hard story to watch.

In the story, fourteen-year-old Duncan goes on holiday with his divorcee mother, Pam, and her boyfriend, Trent. The boyfriend is a puffed up and over-bearing man who is constantly belittling Duncan in a way which basically constitutes psychological and emotional abuse. As a result, Duncan, who is already shy, isolated, and angry, becomes even more sad and his self esteem sinks even lower.

Feeling (and being) very alone, Duncan takes off on his bicycle to explore the seaside town on Cape Cod. He comes across the Water Wizz water park. The park becomes his escape from the uncomfortable adult antics at his summer home. At the water park, he is befriended and mentored by some very unlikely but very good men (and women). Mentoring occurs in unusual ways and in the most unusual places.

As the film progresses, we watch Duncan grow through his coming of age, young male experiences. He develops a supportive, puppy love relationship with the girl next door. At the park, he begins to have fun, learns some lessons about “women” from the men, he accepts some responsibility, contributes his ideas to the business, and earns some praise in the process. As a result of these experiences, his self-esteem, confidence, and courage all come to life.

The Way, Way Back also has a positive message for parents. It illustrates what psychologist and parenting educator, Steve Biddulph, says is a very important parenting equation, TIME = LOVE. Fortunately, this is exactly the lesson Duncan’s mom Pam learns the hard way.

. . . a very important parenting equation,

Superb acting by perfectly cast actors made this film a joy for me to watch. In the clip from the movie below, you'll get a sample of both the ups and downs of Duncan's summer experience. I confess to having a tear in my eye occasionally because the stories of Duncan’s adolescent adventures were close to home for me and apply to so many adolescent boys. Critics called it “funny and sweet”, but it’s much more than that.

If you really care about teen boys, I think you’ll love this movie.

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

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1 comment:

  1. Mark S.8:08 AM

    Loved "The Way, Way Back", it made my top 10 of 2013. Sam Rockwell was great and the kid who played Duncan was actually up for a young actors award. Treat yourself and watch SHORT TERM 12 and THE SPECTACULAR NOW. These movies have some of the best messages for youth that were released last year.


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