As an awkward teenager, my mum used to tell me that ‘your teenage years are the most difficult of your life’. I’d roll my eyes and shout something about how my life would be amazing if it weren’t for my mum not understanding me or my angst-ridden soul.

Looking back – she was right. So it’s with knowing discomfort that we watch Duncan (Liam James) fumble through a desire to be independent while still remaining naively dependent on his mum. In a display of ‘one day we will be a real family’, Duncan and mum (Toni Collette) go on holiday with new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) to his summer home. Out of place among the adults and cool kids, Duncan escapes to the local water park where he gains both a summer job and a mentor.

Performances overall are solid, especially Allison Janney as the super-friendly neighbour and Carell as the asshole would-be stepfather. Unfortunately the film feels a little stifled and contrived; ‘big’ scenes are melodramatic and ‘symbolic’ ones are overtly unsubtle. The story is clichéd and predictable, with archetypal characters too simplistic and stereotypical. This has a disappointing air of laziness about it considering it comes from a duo of Oscar-winning writer/directors.

But its real shortcoming is its inability to fulfil the genre’s promises; with any coming-of-age film, the central character must go on some kind of  journey – coming out the other side more grown-up and prepared for life. It’s difficult to see what’s so significant about Duncan’s development, if there even is anything. With little laugh-out-loud moments to overcome this glaring shortcoming, it’s not really clear what it is, who it’s aimed at or what it’s trying to achieve.

It might prove popular among teenagers still stuck in that not-a-child-but-not-an-adult gap, but adults will consign it to a vague mental scrapbook of mediocre films too bland to ever really remember.