Starring: Steve Carrell, Sam Rockwell, Toni Colette, Liam James, Alison Janney
Directed: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Synopsis: Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.
I did a post a couple of weeks a go about the glorious coming of age drama Kings of Summer, in which I expressed my love of such films. I can now add this film to that list.
This film is kind of similar to Adventureland in its theme park setting and tale of adolescents growing up. Duncan (Liam James) is fourteen and a bit of an outcast. He has to put up with his asshole stepdad played by Steve Carrell and his mum who refuses to see just what an asshole he is. Duncan is struggling to connect with anyone around him, until he happens upon the Water Wizz aqua park, and Owen (Sam Rockwell) in particular.
I imagine we all have that memory of being on holiday or having a summer job where you are a young kid and everyone there, even if they are only in their twenties seems to be so much older, wiser and cooler. Well, that is Owen and the rest if the Water Wizz gang. Kids hang off their every word and follow them around the park. In this particular film it is they who are the Kings of Summer.
Needless to say Duncan is taken under the wing of Owen and his confidence grows and he finally becomes confident in his own skin.
I don’t know if it is because I am a dad nowadays, or if being the kid looking up to an older peer is something I can relate to, but his film could have easily made me shed a tear by its conclusion. The genuine regard that the staff have for Duncan, and he for them by the end was lovely. Some would say this film, and maybe my review, are overly sentimental at times, but isn’t that the beauty of these coming of age movies? Being able to send you back to a time when such things seemed important, and work and mortgages and responsibility seemed so far away? Any film that can make me nostalgic and warm inside despite being in my thirties and now slightly cynical has done its job in my book.