A scene from the 2013 movie The Way Way Back, written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
Plot Summary: 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.
This scene feature one of the movie’s co-writers and co-directors Rash in the role of Lewis.
EXT. WATERPARK - RENTAL BOOTH - DAY Owen and Duncan approach LEWIS, working behind the counter. He’s quite a curmudgeon, pale as can be, and his Water Wizz employee shirt is WAY too big for him. OWEN Lewis, hook up my man, Duncan, here with one of our finest rentals. LEWIS Some kid threw up near Crazy Tubes. OWEN Whoa, let’s try not to impress him all at once. LEWIS That will not be a challenge. OWEN Lewis is kind of over this place. LEWIS I told you. I’m not long for here. OWEN No, I remember that conversation. In 2003, 5, 11, April, two days ago... LEWIS I’ve just got things I want to do. OWEN Prove it. Without thinking, rattle off three. Go. Owen smiles at Duncan. He loves goading Lewis. LEWIS (complying) I don’t know. See New Mexico. Invent something. Become a storm chaser... OWEN You had me until number three. I think you have to go to school for that. LEWIS (scoffing) “Hey, look. There’s a storm.” “Where?” “Over there.” “Cool. Let’s go get it.” “Got it.” OWEN Wait. Are you chasing them or capturing...? Lewis waves him off, pulls out a pair of ragged-looking swim trunks from below the counter, hands them to Duncan. LEWIS These don’t have any mesh, so you’re basically going “commando.” Watch sitting. You’re junk will fall out. OWEN And like that, you’re impressed. And, grossed out. Off Duncan,...
Here is the movie version of the scene:
The scene follows the script with little variance. So ask yourself: What’s the point of this scene? Primarily to introduce Lewis and set into motion his subplot. Lewis is not only a funny character, the fact that he is “kind of over this place” puts him in a unique position in the story. On the one hand, he sets expectations for Duncan’s water park experience very low due to his apparent negative view of the place. On the other hand, he provides a mentor dynamic to Owen because while Owen is stuck in his life, tethered to this dumpy amusement park, at least Lewis is voicing a desire to leave. By movie’s end, we get a sense that while Duncan has grown as a character, so has Owen, the implication being he may be on his own path to leave the place.
That issue — leaving or staying — is the central theme of the Lewis subplot and it gets it start in this scene.
Wonderful little movie, highly recommended!
One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.