The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 103 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Janey, Toni Collette, AnnaSophia Robb, Rob Cordory, Amanda Peet, Maya Rudolph, Liam James
Written & Directed by: Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Music by: Rob Simonsen
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 22, 2013
Dive into this “smart, imaginative, first-rate comedy” (Karen Durbin, ELLE) featuring an all-star comedic cast, including Steve Carell, Maya Rudolph, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, and Amanda Peet! While 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) is being dragged on a family trip with his mom (Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend (Carell), he finds a gregarious friend (Rockwell) at a local water park. The two form a powerful bond as Duncan learns to swim through the challenges of life, love, family and friendship, resulting in a vacation he’ll never forget.
Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who also star in the film) The way way back is a dramedy that revolves around Duncan, an introverted 14 year old struggling to cope with his parent’s breakup and her new boyfriend Trent who sees Duncan’s shy demeanor as a flaw. As such Trent takes every opportunity to exploit it via subtle needling banter and gestures of belittling sarcasm. To add insult to injury Duncan’s needy mother Pam desires only that Duncan make more of an effort to get along with Trent while passively ignoring the friction between the two.
Things aren’t looking any better when they all, including Trent’s older teenage daughter Steph, land at Trent’s beach house for a vacation. With tensions mounting indoors Duncan heads out exploring the beach community and discovers a local water park. It’s not much and is run by a band of seemingly tame ne’re-do-wells who have spent 10 summers too many working there. Owen is the park’s director. He is affable, kind of shiftless, outgoing and clownish. After a chance meeting Owen invites Duncan back offering him a job. Not quite sure what to expect Duncan returns as there is an underlying comfort that draws him both to the park and Owen who is someone completely different than anyone he has known. Their friendship is the foundation of the storyline as Duncan comes to development a voice, self worth and the belief that there is in fact life outside of walls that seem to be closing in on him.
The way way back explores very familiar themes as it takes us back to a place that most of us have been to in one way or another. The awkwardness of adolescence, struggling to fit in and how one summer, one good friend or the right attention from a crush can be a transformative experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and reveled in its heartwarming, personal and charming story about a boy who needed understanding and how the right person was there when he needed it most. The script is well constructed and expertly balances the lines between drama and levity which includes ample amounts of sharp wit as delivered by the always capable Sam Rockwell who is among my favorite character actors. Speaking of which the entire cast is simply spot on, including youngsters Liam James and River Alexander who literally steals every scene he is in.
The way way back has a crowd pleasing aesthetic that is bolstered by authentic characterizations underscored by a solid script and wonderful performances by the ensemble cast. It is among the best films that I have seen this year and I look forward to revisiting it.
The rating is for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The way way back comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
This video presentation is consistent with most newer release films coming to Blu-ray and looks great. Colors are bright, with vivid primaries, and deep saturation which makes them visually pleasing. Contrast and brightness are nicely balanced which adds punch to colors and brightly lit scenes while keeping darker elements dynamic and gradational. Complexions are rich in tonal description with natural highlights that appear lifelike. Images are crisp with stable sharpness and appreciable definition that brings out plenty of subtle texture within the objects and people onscreen.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is more than capable of handling the elements present in this dialogue driven film and sound excellent overall. Vocal reproduction is smooth and strident free through the center channel. The front oriented surround mix is delivered via a wide soundstage, with opulent detail and appropriate prioritization. Atmospheric ambience is lightly mixed to the rear channels which provides subtle venue replicating surround envelopment and music enhancement.
- (HD) Behind the scenes with the hilarious cast/filmmakers (6 segment totaling 30 minutes):
- The script
- The cast
- The shoot
- The characters
- Nat & Jim
- The script
- (HD) 3 deleted scenes
- (HD) Tour of the water park – 3 minute featurette
- (HD) Jim & Pat the filmmakers – 3 minute featurette
- (HD) Ensemble featurette – 4 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The way way back is charming, funny, wonderfully enacted/directed and one of my favorite films of 2013. It makes its way onto Blu-ray in a solid offering from 20th Century Fox that features excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound quality and a complimentary assortment of bonus features. This one comes highly recommended. Enjoy!
Here is the trailer:
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
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Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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