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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Way, Way Back trailer: the untold tale of awkward male teendom

I’m so glad someone finally has the guts to tell the truth about what it’s like to be an awkward teenaged boy. This is a realm of human experience that truly has never been explored on film before.

I, for one, am particularly gratified that this tale covers one vitally important lesson a young man needs mentoring in: how to objectify women in a way that allows him to pretend that the women he’s objectifying don’t realize that’s what he’s doing. (Of course we know he’s fooling no one, certainly not the women, because women’s perspectives on these things have been so fully explored in cinema that we’re all tired of them already, amirite?) Boosting a young man’s self-esteem at the expense of a young woman’s is part of what it means to be a man, and so few young men have a responsible adult to teach him these things.


US/Canada release date: Jul 5 2013 | UK release date: Aug 28 2013
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  • Stephanie C.

    I find it interesting that they are pushing it with ‘From the Studio that brought you Juno and Little Miss SUnshine’. I mean, Fox Searchlight, while not a huge studio, is a well backed one, and they’ve done a lot of other films – why draw attention to two more feminist girl coming of age stories when pushing this? They obviously feel that it shares something in common with them (they could, after all, have gone for (500) Days of Summer or Napoleon Dynamite). I have the sneaking suspicion there is more to this than the description you give it, and the trailer is just badly edited for what the film might be.

  • Even if it’s the best ever teen-boy coming-of-age story, this ground is well trod already. Time to make space for some new stories.

  • bronxbee

    i think it’s more likely that those two movies are the ones the movie-going public *might* remember — and even those are quite old now. ND is a cult within a cult favorite… 500 Days of Summer came and went .

  • Froborr

    I blame John Campbell and George Lucas. Campbell’s entire theory of the monomyth was predicated on the absurd notion that EVERY story is the story of a teen boy coming of age. (Well, that plus a towering blend of sexism, cultural appropriation, and deliberately ignoring any facts that didn’t fit his theory.) Lucas then used Campbell as a guidebook for Star Wars, which resulted in Campbell becoming the recipe for Hollywood storytelling. I have heard–though I’ll admit I don’t have the knowledge to say whether it’s credible or not–that there is a literal pamphlet summarizing Campbell that gets passed to young producers and executives with the instruction “this is how stories work.”

  • Danielm80

    There was a folklorist, many decades back, who came up with a theory that every folk and fairy tale was based on the myth of the sun god. The idea was pretty fashionable for a while, even though it didn’t make a lot of sense. People would say: Little Red Riding Hood has a cloak the color of the sun. It all fits!

    Eventually, some other folklorists got irritated with that sort of thing, so they wrote an article proving that the guy who came up with the theory was, himself, a myth about the sun god.

    But, actually, I think the movies about teen boys are just an example of Hollywood eating itself. They know there’s a market for that sort of thing, so they keep making the same movie over and over again.

  • And it’s also because most movies are made by men, and men are telling versions of their own childhood. There’s nothing wrong with that. The wrong comes in how there’s so little diversity in who is making the movies.

  • Danielm80

    I thought that went without saying (at least on this site), but I never underestimate the power of “We already know how to sell that” in Hollywood.

  • singlestick

    John Campbell was just the dumbed down version of myth and literature. And there have been tons of popular film makers before George Lucas. And there is a part of Hollywood that just plays it safe, whether it is imitations of George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino for boys, or imitations of Stephanie Meyer for girls. But this does not prevent more original works from being made, such as “The Outsiders,” “Stand by Me,” “Princess Bride” or even “The Hunger Games.”

    Also, I don’t know if many of the worst examples of these movies are men telling versions of their own childhoods, as much as they are fantasies of what they wished their childhoods were like. On the other hand, some of the endless stream of teen angst, outsider movies can be just as formulaic and phony in their own way.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I think you all mean Joseph Campbell, the author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and not John Campbell, the late sci-fi writer / magazine editor who, among other things, wrote “Who Goes There?”, the novella which inspired The Thing.

    Apart from that, please feel free to carry on.

  • RogerBW

    Yes, it is possible for a 2.5-minute trailer to be too long. I sometimes wonder why cast and crew on something like this don’t wake up, realise what they’re doing, think about the dreams they brought to Hollywood, and go on a murder spree.

  • RogerBW

    As it happened, the other trailer I watched today was for “Independence Day-Saster”. Which looks as though it’s likely to be way more fun than this, spinny yoyos of death and all.

  • singlestick

    Absolutely right. I should have caught that in my original reply. I think one of the first big SF collections I read was either edited by John Campbell, or contained some stories written by him. While I respected Joseph Campbell as a popularizer of myth theory, I think he got a lot of stuff wrong in his over-arching generalizations.

  • I didn’t see the tailer for this, but I enjoy the cast, and not every teen coming of age movie can be “Perks of Being a Wallflower” (and this one definitely is not). However, I’m generally less tired of this meme than I am of the bang-bang-bang super hero/SF adventure movie with virtually no plot. I saw this movie today (and would recommend it with reservations), but I am not going to see Elysium.

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