Cinémas Palme D'Or in Palm Desert presented a special screening of the new film "The Way, Way Back" with a live Q&A session with the film's co-director, co-writer, co-producer and actor Jim Rash on Aug. 17, 2013, in Palm Desert, Calif. The Q&A with Mr. Rash was hosted by Cinémas Palme D'Or host and co-owner Steve Mason (Mason and Ireland Show - 710 AM).
Jim Rash met his writing partner Nat Faxon when they were members of The Groundlings theater group in Los Angeles. Just about eight years ago, they penned a screenplay that has now finally made it to the movie houses, titled "The Way, Way Back." The screenplay was almost produced by two separate studios, but the timing just wasn't right and it was put on the back burner for several years.
Many of the patrons know Jim Rash for his work on the television show on NBC called "Community." But Jim Rash and his writing partner Nat Faxon are also the Oscar-winning writers of the smash hit film starring George Clooney, known as "The Descendants." Strangely, it was their unproduced script from "The Way, Way Back" that got Jim and Nat the job to write the adapted screenplay for "The Descendants."
Finally, once award season was over, the writing couple were able script into production. The film has several well-known stars. Sam Rockwell agreed to do the film during a phone conversation that Jim and Nat made in their car after pulling over to the side of the road to make the call. Having talked to each other about how they would convince Rockwell to do the movie, they were shocked when Rockwell said "I like the script. Yah, let's do it."
Allison Janey agreed over lunch and Steve Carrell took the most persuasion. Carrell saves summer for only family, so the film as actually made on the same street that Carrell vacations on during the summer. Carrell was so close to the house used in the film that he rode his bike to the shoot each morning.
Young Liam James, may be best known for his role in the AMC hit "The Killings." According to Rash, "He was the only kid that wasn't that polished Hollywood kid with three names. When we first saw him his shoulders slumped a little bit and he was pale. After a few line reads, we knew he would be perfect for the role of Duncan."
Both "The Descendants" and "The Way, Way Back" feature strong teenage performances. Rush stated "It takes restraint. We approach the children much like the late John Huges did. We never speak down to the characters. In 'The Way, Way Back,' it's the adults that are acting badly. In the beginning of the film Duncan is a true introvert and we wanted to show his character's vulnerability."
Rash also described the relationship between actor Sam Rockwell and Liam James. In the film "The Way, Way Back," Sam's character bonds with the lonely Duncan, and according to Rash, the bond went further than just during the shooting of the film "Sam is a real loving person and their real journey is almost the same as the one shot at the water park."
In the film, Duncan has issues with his mother's boyfriend. Basically the man just doesn't think much of Duncan and is more than willing to offer up his assessment. Rash told the audience that this particular moment was inspired from his own relationship with his step-father. The mostly relaxed and funny Rash seemed a little chocked-up to recount this personal moment from his past.
The very funny film spends a lot of the time at a water park called the Water Wizz. The owners of the park were emphatic that the name remained the same in the film, and Rash and Faxon were of course very happy with keeping honoring their request.
So what is next for this talented thespian? He will continue to star in "Community," stating "We really are alive because of our fan base." You can also catch Rash in a television series shown of the Sundance Channel called "The Writer's Room." Each episode features a writing team from a successful television production. Rash is the moderator and has so far shot six episodes.
Cinemas Palme D'Or is located at the Westfield Shopping Plaza at 72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert, CA (see map)
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones and no texting, please don't talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don't forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com