, Gloucester, MA


July 18, 2013

Manchester native's 'The Way, Way Back' balances humor, pathos

The film “The Way Way Back” opens with a scene in which a man driving a station wagon asks a child sitting in the rear-facing “way, way back” seat what number he would rate himself, 1 to 10. When the apprehensive boy responds “a six,” the man quips back that the boy was in fact “a three.”

And so begins this coming-of-age film in which this dialogue was based on a true story of Jim Rash, who wrote and directed the movie with Manchester native Nat Faxon. The screenwriting team took home an Oscar at the 2012 Academy Awards for “The Descendants.”

“I was in the car with my mother’s second husband and he made the same speech about how I wasn’t getting out there and taking advantage of what life has to offer,” reiterated Rash during a recent interview at the Liberty Hotel in Boston. Both he and Faxon were as easy-going and affable on their press tour as they would be among their fellow “Groundlings.”

The pair first met in 1999 at the legendary Groundlings Theater, a Los Angeles institution that has served as an incubator for comic talent such as Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Phil Hartman, Kristin Wiig, Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow and many others.

The comic talent of Faxon and Rash pours into the script of this story of self discovery, which stars Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James, Amanda Peet, and Rob Corddry.

Each actor creates a strong character in their own right. Just seeing the slender 6-foot Janney, an award-winning actress, become a margarita-toting pushy neighbor is funny enough; Janney is remembered by many for her commanding role as White House staffer C.J. Cregg in the hit TV show “West Wing.”

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