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Brief summary:

Duncan (newcomer Liam James) is a lonely, shy kid who hasn’t really ever been treated with respect. His mom (Toni Colette) has been dating this guy Trent (Steve Carell) for a while, and they’re spending a month or so at the beach, at Trent’s shore house, during summer 2013.

Trent is a big douchebag… alpha-male-type, trying to weasel his way into possibly becoming Duncan’s stepfather…. and Duncan rightfully hates his guts. His mom seems oblivious to how awful Trent treats Duncan on a day-to-day basis, and Duncan harbors a lot of resentment.

Duncan seems stuck at the shore house shortly after arriving, while everyone is out having fun and basically ignoring him. But as luck would have it, he finds a girl’s bike, and soon fearlessly explores the beach town on it. He immediately meets a great, funny guy named Owen (Sam Rockwell), who offers Duncan a summer job at the water park, which Owen manages. In mere days, Owen becomes much more of a father figure to Duncan than Trent could ever hope to be. Even with Owen’s immaturity, he treats Duncan with complete respect and realizes the potential in the kid.

What happens next? Tons of fun, occasionally heartbreaking, and heartwarming stuff. As usual, I won’t spoil anything for you. You have to watch it, and, if you know anything about me, I always recommend great movies, which seem to be quickly forgotten about (and shouldn’t ever be).

The film just hits on all levels, from the great soundtrack to the top-notch acting by every single character. Sam Rockwell is infinitely charming with his immature, sarcastic, jaded dialogue and interaction with his co-workers. You’ll want to find a friend just like him in real life. And Liam James… man, you just feel every single emotion, watching him on-screen. This is a boy/character who has been through the ringer of life, and he’s not even 15, yet. Annasophia Robb also provides a refreshing contrast to Liam James’ overall bummer vibe.

It’s summer as I type this (June 15th, 2015), so make this the next film you see! It is a perfect summer film.

edit:
The film is the writing and directorial debut of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Nat Faxon plays a minor role in the film as an employee of the water park, and Owen’s friend Roddy. Quick search showed me that Jim Rash won an academy award for the screenplay of The Descendants (2012), so these guys are definitely on the map. If this film is any indication, I can’t wait to see what else these guys do. Over time, I know this movie will make these guys household names, in the same way John Hughes is.

-Chris Caulder
http://youtube.com/chriscauldermusic
http://chriscaulder.net
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