Movies: 'The Way Way Back' could be surprise summer hit

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The new film called "The Way Way Back" may just be this year's "Little Miss Sunshine." In other words, it's a small film with a great script and an even better cast that just might catch you by surprise in the middle of all the big-budget shoot-'em-ups and comic- book hero movies that normally come out in the summer. (It even stars Steve Carell, as well!)

The title refers to the very back of the old station wagon. Kids used to sit facing the traffic behind the car, sometimes seeing things in a different way than mom and dad, who were riding in the front, facing forward.

At least that's what director, writer and actor Jim Rash believes. He and his writer, actor and directing pal Nat Faxon were recently in the Valley talking about this movie, which they say was a "pet project" of theirs.

They wrote "The Way Way Back" years before winning the Oscar for writing and adapting the Academy Award-winning George Clooney film "The Decendants." The clout from that win helped them get "The Way Way Back" finally made.

The film is a funny and very poignant coming-of-age story of a 14-year-old boy played by newcomer Liam James. It takes place while he's on summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend (Carell) and some of their crazy friends (Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry) The introverted teen finds his way by getting a job at a water park, and becoming friends with the manager played by Sam Rockwell.

Rash says he wrote this one from the heart. Some of the more painful moments in the movie he claims came directly from his own experiences.

Most of the actors in this movie are acting against type. the normally funny Carell plays a guy who's not exactly nice. Both Rash and Faxon are in the movie, as well. Rash can currently be seen on the TV show "Community."

The two say they'll continue to write for TV and film while also pursuing their acting careers.

"The Way Way Back" opens in Phoenix July 12. It's rated PG-13.