The Way, Way Back

Movie review by S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Way, Way Back Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 13+

Refreshing coming-of-age tale a joy for teens and up.

PG-13 2013 103 minutes

Parents say

age 13+

Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+

Based on 24 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Summer fun for teens 14+

Pretty good movie. Thought it would be a little more adventurous though, seemed to drag on a bit by the mid-end. The sites rating was a bit misleading though, there is a lot more sexual/sensual content than listed which surprised me. It reminded me of a poorer copy of Adventure Land. Characters seemed too "ditzy" especially the teen girls however it's definitely realistic. We meet shy, boring Duncan (Liam James) who's 14 and doesn't look forward to spending the summer with his mother Pam (Toni Collette) and her "smartass" boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) at his beach house. But he has no choice. Trent's sister and Duncan's sister are all to themselves yet their next door neighbor Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) takes a liking to Duncan in a friendly way. Susanna's hyper and upbeat mom (Allison Janney) drinks a lot and isn't afraid to admit it while good friend Joan (Amanda Peet) remains offbeat & a tad unlikable. Then there's cool guy Owen (Sam Rockwell) who's the owner of the Water Wizz Waterpark who becomes a friendly pal to Duncan and shows him how to lighten up. Language has an f-word, sh*t, d*ck, hell, [email protected], @ss, @sshole, some sexual related words, name calling like perv, idiot, [email protected] etc. Violence has loud arguments, a man almost hits a boy when another man steps in, lots of jokes about stuff like cancer, killing yourself and beating people up, boy falls off a car hood. Sexual content contains a couple kissing and touching in front of a boy, a passionate kiss when a man says a sexual remark trying to get a boy to leave the room, two teens kiss, two grown women rub up against a boy and dance seductively while one is wearing a bikini top with an open shirt, women make a crude remark when a man is shown in a robe, boy tries to kiss a girl, comment about a rape of a teenager, butt grabbing, lots of sexual remarks and jokes about getting laid, making out, oral sex and more. A teens butt is starred at by men and a boy when she's in a bikini which prolongs on screen for a while. Lots of adult drinking and talking about drinking, a teen sneaks alcohol, some drugs and mentioning of doing drugs, a teen says she would do drugs with her kids...etc. One cigar scene. I'd say it's iffy for 13 so 14/15+ is fair!

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 13+

Sweet movie, recommended for 12/13 and up

Loved this movie. We took our mature 12 year old and tho she didn't originally want to go, she ended up loving it too. It is very down to earth, sweet and funny. There are episodes of badness - mostly carried out by the adult characters - a couple of swear words, oogling, mild-ish sexual language, a brief scene with pot and people who are high. There are also kid characters who talk back and are defiant to the adults. However the main character's story really keeps you above it. I also liked that the movie provided some good things to talk about afterward.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Movie Details

Our Editors Recommend

  • Adventureland Poster Image

    Adventureland

    Fairly thoughtful romcom masquerades as a raunchy indie.

    age 16+
  • Moonrise Kingdom Poster Image

    Moonrise Kingdom

    Typically quirky Wes Anderson dramedy has lots of heart.

    age 14+
  • Almost Famous Poster Image

    Almost Famous

    Great, but lots of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

    age 16+

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Cartoon hands high fiving
    Friendship
    See all

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate