The Way, Way Back (2013)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 43 mins

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The Way, Way Back is a funny and poignant coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan’s (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally find his place in the world - all during a summer he will never forget.
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Did you know? Jake Gyllenhaal was considered for the lead role but he dropped out. Read More
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as Trent
as Pam
as Neil
as Betty
as Joan
as Susanna
as Laura
as Chad
as Lewis
as Duncan
as Caitlin
as Roddy
as Peter
as Kip
as Kyle
as Owen
as Steph





Story Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Art Director


Casting Director



Stunt Coordinator
Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
Dolby, Dolby Digital
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 (Flat), 2.35 : 1
In the first scene at the water park, Owen is eating a pop-tart. Throughout the scene, the amount of pop-tart eaten and the direction it is facing in his hand changes several times.

On the morning Susanna follows Duncan to the water park and winds up spending the day with him they are each riding their own bicycle. But when returning home that evening there is only one between them as they walk.

Crew/Equipment Visible
Microphone visible inside Owen's shirt when he and Duncan are on top of slide.
In an interview, writer/director Jim Rash said the script's main inspiration was the opening scene, inspired by a similar conversation he had with his own stepfather when he was 14.

The script was written in 2007 as "The Way Back", but the title was later changed to avoid confusion with the film The Way Back (2010). The title refers to the "way back seat," the 1970s colloquial expression for the third, often-hidden seat located in the cargo section of a station wagon.

The film was originally supposed to take place in 1984, but was moved into the present due to budgetary constraints. Owen's comment about how the water park "hasn't been upgraded since 1983" and Duncan's REO Speedwagon sing-along are both references to this fact.

Sam Rockwell would often improvise and joke around on the loudspeaker during scenes. One time, forgetting that there were children around, he made an inappropriate joke about herpes, which upset the owner of the park. Rockwell had to go and apologize so that they could continue filming.

In order to save money, the filmmakers decided to not get trailers for the actors, and instead decided to rent a house for the duration of filming (approx. 6 weeks), where the actors could go between takes. The house turned into a popular hangout spot for the cast and crew, and they would often go to the house even during weekends or days off.

Steve Carell initially turned the movie down because he and his family go on vacation to his home state (Massachusetts) every Summer. However it was later discovered that the location of the film shoot was a short drive away from where Carell and his family vacationed, therefore he was able to accept the role.

While location scouting, Jim Rash would take pictures of beach houses that he felt would be good to film in. During filming, he discovered that one of the houses he photographed belonged to Steve Carell's in laws.

In the original script, the character of Caitlyn was a young teenager who worked in the park and had no significant screen time. In later drafts, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon decided to make the character older and have her interact with Owen (Sam Rockwell)more, though it was mostly superficial interaction. When Maya Rudolph was cast, Rash and Faxon told Rudolph and Rockwell, that although there was not much in the script, the two actors would have to create a meaningful relationship between their two characters.

A documentary called Wagonmasters (2012), released the year before this movie, discusses the importance of the "wayback seat." Promotional items released for _Wagonmasters_ included bumper stickers and buttons declaring proudly, "I sat in the wayback."

Jake Gyllenhaal was considered for the lead role but he dropped out.