Like many coming-of-age movies, The Way Way Back, written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, is about the necessity for Uranian upheaval. And the film’s young protagonist knows, from the depths of his being, that this fated summer his Life Must Change.
Fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James) has a bad feeling about his single mom Pam’s (Toni Collette) boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell). A bullying, critical father figure, Trent regularly emotionally abuses Duncan and demeans his already low self-worth. It’s a behavior in a partner which Pam, in her eagerness for a stable relationship and because of her own demons, is reluctant to address.
Fortunately Duncan has an escape route. A nearby water-themed amusement park, called the Water Wizz, becomes his daily go-to destination. Managed by Owen (Sam Rockwell), an immature adult who nonetheless becomes a sympathetic, protective and wise father figure to the boy, the park even becomes the source of Duncan’s summer job. And, because the place is populated with an oddball bunch of characters who genuinely care for him, the teen thrives.
Risk and leaving one’s comfort zone are energies associated with Uranus, and Duncan’s explosive leap of faith – which spills over into Pam’s life, too – doesn’t disappoint. But when a rite of passage involves a place that’s a play on the word “wizard,” how could it have turned out any other way?
Astrology Film Rating: ♅ (Uranus)