Monday, July 29, 2013

Pass the Popcorn: The Way Way Back

I am always happy to go to the movies. Pretty much any movie, any time, with anyone. But, don't offer to go with me unless you're willing to (a) let me have my own bucket of popcorn (I'm happy to treat you to yours, I just don't like sharing — which makes the titles of these posts a little misleading doesn't it?). And (b) willing to get there in time to see the coming attractions.

What can I say? Often, they're the best part! Too often, in fact, the two minutes of great entertainment in the trailer are the only two minutes of great entertainment in the whole two-hour movie. Some trailers are mini masterpieces.

As far back as I can remember, I have always always always loved movie trailers. In the mid-80s (gasp!), I had personal access to all of them. It was early in my copywriting career with the in-house agency of Continental Cablevision. Every month, each of the pay channels would send a promotional cassette with previews of all of its upcoming programming. Prior to writing our bill insert "Cable Highlights," I would close myself up in a conference room and watch the trailers to my heart's content.

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

Today, I no longer make a living writing about movies (sigh), but I now have a 24/7 link to trailers. The iTunes Movie Trailers page. It's my favorite way to procrastinate. In between writing a couple of ads? Waiting for feedback on a brochure? Stuck on a headline? I treat myself (or avoid the problem) with a movie trailer.

Weeks if not months ago, I watched the trailer for The Way Way Back. And, I've watched it several times since. It just looked smart and thoughtful. Even though it's set in contemporary times, there is an air of nostalgia to it. It promised to capture the sheer misery of teenage awkwardness (and the unrelenting stupidity of adults). It also promised to be something I could enjoy with my teenage daughter and the exchange student who's staying with us for a couple of weeks. So, as soon as it opened at the tiny new cinema in our (tiny old) town, I went online for tickets. Bottom line?

The Way Way Back is way way good!

What a treat! This is one time that an entertaining trailer didn't oversell a mediocre movie. It is a perfect little picture, with an endearing hero, colorful secondary characters, a very clever script, some bittersweet humor, and a wonderful redemptive ending.

Funny man Steve Carrell is playing a bad guy for a change. And, I do mean b-a-d, bad! Dating a divorcee (the appealing if a little blind to her surroundings Toni Collette), this creep — and, oy, he is such a creep! — brings her and her fourteen year old son to his beach house where there is non-stop boozing, bed-hopping, and other immature behavior all perpetuated by the grownups.

The son, Duncan, is targeted by local, cooler teens and picked on mercilessly by Carrell's stepfather figure. Riding off on a humiliatingly pink and princessy bike (the only one in the garage), Duncan finds solace in unlikely places: among a rag-tag group of water park slackers, and through a budding friendship with a pretty neighbor, Susanna (The Carrie Diaries' AnnaSophia Robb). 

The whole movie is just so watchable and enjoyable. You really root for Duncan. (Real-life 16-year old Liam James — what a cutie! And so talented!) You really want his mother to wake up already and dump the loser who's torturing her son. You really want to go to a water park (it helped that we saw the movie during an unforgiving heat wave). And, you really want to believe that your own teenagers never see you the way that Duncan and Susanna view theirs. (Believe me that's what you really really really want!)

Thing is, there's a truthiness to the whole thing. And that's what we all enjoyed most. 

Watch the trailer. See the movie.

Just get your own popcorn.

No comments:

Post a Comment