In profile, Steve Carell looks a little like Lee Harvey Oswald, something you’ve probably never noticed and never would noticed except in “The Way, Way Back,” in which he uncharacteristically plays someone very easy to hate. It’s an honest movie about what it’s like to be a teenage boy, about the need for a father figure and about the frustrating helplessness of being a kid.
In the movie’s first scene, a boy is riding in a car and Carell — playing the boy’s mother’s new boyfriend — is hectoring the kid. We don’t see his face, just his eyes in the rearview mirror. He asks the boy to rate his own sex appeal on a one-to-10 scale and then announces that the boy is “a three.” Ostensibly offering valuable advice, he’s really just bullying the kid and savoring his own power.
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‘The Way, Way Back’
Starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell and Liam James
Rating: PG-13, adult themes.
Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.
Theaters: Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema