Director:  Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Writers: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and Allison Janney
Studio: Fox Searchlight

14-year-old Duncan is a sullen, withdrawn adolescent whose shaky self-image is not helped by his divorced mother Pam’s and her obnoxious boyfriend Trent, or his snippy daughter Steph. On the drive to spend the summer at Trent’s beach house called “The Riptide,” Trent asks him how he would rate himself on a scale of one to ten. Not normally being asked to rate oneself, Duncan might have said “two thumbs up,” if he thought about it, but all he can think of to say is a six.

The real magic within the film is the relationship between Duncan and Owen,a middle-aged operator of a water park within the resort town, who also comes from a troubled past and a strained relationship with his own father. Owen uses his humor and confidence to try and instill the same in Duncan, and provides Duncan with not just a summer job to get him away from the beach house, but also an environment where he can learn to be outgoing and build a number of friendships. Owen knows that Duncan has trouble at home, but is careful not to pry too much, until he can see that Duncan really needs someone he can open up to. The three quirky water park employees aside from Owen that the movie focuses on are played by Maya Rudolph, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash.

The directors drawing inspiration from their own lives leaves the film feeling very genuine. The obvious comparisons to Adventureland have been made, and while I enjoy both films telling this story from a younger age group I think really sold it for me. Seeing the same struggles tackled from an even harder age was more interesting to me. You see Duncan looked down upon by not just the adults but the teens as well; being stuck in this situation mid-puberty is way more humiliating for the teens and thus much sweeter when we’re presented with the moral.



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