I’m hugely excited to see the new film The Way, Way Back, which was created by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Not only does it look like a great story — written by the folks who brought you The Descendants, which was terrific — it also features a title and a supporting role from a very special 1970 Buick Electra Estate Wagon.
Like the VW microbus in Little Miss Sunshine, the directors here — Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who you might know as Dean Pelton in Community) — have cast a car in a strong supporting role. The title refers to the third row, rear facing seat available in full-size station wagons through the 1990s.
The film’s synopsis: 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), is a lonely boy who finds refuge under the wing of a motor-mouthed man-child manager (Sam Rockwell) at the Water Wizz water park.
In the opening scene, Duncan is asked, “On a scale of one to 10, what do you think you are?” by his mother’s boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell).
“A six,” Duncan replies—just above average.
Trent swiftly corrects him: “I think you’re a three.”
In an interview in OC Weekly, Rash recalled, “That scene in the station wagon happened to me when I was 14, when we were on our way to our summer vacation with my stepfather at the time.”
The wagon’s a 1970, as evidenced by the one-year-only bumper and grille. In ’69, the headlamps were closer together, and by 1971, the lamps had moved into their own little pods cast into the nose.
“That car was always written in,” said co-writer Faxon in an article in USA Today. “Certainly the title refers to the way way back seat.”
The movie was filmed in Western Massachusetts, and the wagon had to be the right car for the job.
“Our car master found this guy named Marshall who owned both a 1970 and 1971 Buick,” say Faxon. “It was the exactly the kind of car we envisioned from the start.”
“They are the most comfortable car you have ever driven in your life,” Rash says. “It’s like you’re cruising in this boat. It’s like you’re not even moving.”
The film’s getting rave reviews everywhere, none more enthusiastic than Peter Travers at Rolling Stone, who wrote “I’d rate this dream of a comedy a 10 out of 10, but I don’t want to jinx it. People like to throw stones at perfect scores, so I took out half a star. Big lie. I loved every minute of it.”
I’m sure some other nerd is writing a post on how cool it was that they shot at Wareham, Massachusetts’ Water Wizz water park.