Opens July 5

By Jeff Labrecque
Updated April 12, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

Fourth of July weekend is typically the domain of sequels and CG aliens, not little-engine-that-could festival films. But after charming the snow pants off Sundance audiences and selling to Fox Searchlight for a near-record $10 million, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s homage to 1980s coming-of-age comedies could be a Little Miss Sunshine-style summer sleeper. Liam James plays Duncan, an awkward and sensitive teen dragged along to his mom’s boyfriend’s beach house for the summer. Bullied by his potential stepdad (Steve Carell), Duncan finds refuge at a nearby water park where laid-back Owen (Sam Rockwell) is lord of the local misfits. ”Steve’s usually the nice guy and I usually play dicks, so it’s a nice red herring to sort of flip it,” says Rockwell, who knew exactly what Rash and Faxon, the Oscar-winning co-writers of The Descendants, were looking for. ”The guys were really channeling Ordinary People meets Meatballs.”

Expect more of the latter, especially from Rockwell, who makes no apologies for impersonating Bill Murray’s kooky camp counselor. ”There’s a little Walter Matthau from Bad News Bears and Richard Pryor in Bustin’ Loose, but Bill Murray is definitely the meat of it,” says Rockwell, who calls Murray his hero. ”Steal from the best, man.”

The Way, Way Back

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 103 minutes
  • Nat Faxon
  • Jim Rash