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Away We Go (2009) ***1/2

June 14, 2009

 

Away We Go (2009) poster

 

written by : Dave Eggers & Vendela Vido

produced by: Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub & Edward Saxon

directed by: Sam Mendes

Rated R for language and some sexual content.

98 min.

U.S. theatrical release date: June 5, 2009

DVD/Blu-Ray release date: September 29, 2009

After attending a screening, one declaration came to mind as I left the theater, “Summer needs this movie”. That’s right. Amid all the bombastic, effects-laden summer flicks that blow junk up real good, here’s a sweet and real (and really sweet) romantic comedy that comes as a needed alternate option. Director Sam Mendes uses the structure of a road trip to examine the fears and apprehension many couples face regarding parenthood and commitment. It’s a welcome tender side of Mendes that we have really not seen yet.

Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are an unmarried couple faced with the impending birth of their first child. There’s enough apprehension in that alone but then they find their plans for familial support squashed by relocating self-absorbed parents. They decide to find a new home for themselves before the baby arrives and embark on a search across the U.S. and Canada visiting friends and family, hoping to locate a place to raise a baby around people they love. The trip reveals their own increasing hesitation and doubts as well as the crazy, obnoxious, miserable, non-conformist, and wounded friends and family they visit. The contrast here is that Burt & Verona are perfect for each other. You don’t see them blow-up or manipulate each other. They are best friends who work off each other well and balance each other out. Not the typical couple you find in a rom-com. Yes, this is a romantic comedy which shows genuine, real romance and a gamut of comedy with just the right amount of sweetness and quirk.

  

 

 

The film’s two leads are refreshingly and perfectly cast with a soulful Rudolph and a “sweet guy” Krasinski, inviting the viewer to discover them as they figure out what to do with their life. The wide range of great supporting characters provide hilarious and poignant roles, especially for the woman. Allison Janney, Carmen Ejogo, Maggie Gyllenhaal & Meanie Lynskey were all great in their roles which varied from contemptious to empathetic. Well, there are also great urns by Chris Messina, Jim Gaffigan & Josh Hamilton, and of course, the always great Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara, as Bert’s parents, seeing strong women roles is rare and refreshing. Writers Eggers and Vida manage the degrees of intimacy and behavior wonderfully, combining the animated journey of faces and places with Verona & Burt’s own divisions on marriage and the sacrifices of personal success, urging the couple through uncomfortable scenes of confrontation and dependency which inevitably help them find who they wanna be.

 Although I knew where the film was going the entire time, it didn’t bother me one bit. The characters and the writing were engaging enough to keep me in the film, often reminding me what I like most about film. This is a rare film that seems extraordinarily comfortable with natural displays of personal expression. I like the idea that home is a place developed through the complexities of relationships and self-examination, founded in the bonds of memory and trust. It’s a lovely approach in an engaging dramedy, and I hope Mendes has a few more of these within him before he focuses back to the dark side of humanity.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. windi permalink
    January 28, 2010 4:20 pm

    this was a really good movie. I watched it one night when Matt wasn’t around, because it’s not the type of movie he likes.

    I think my favorite part of the movie was at the house where Maggie Gyllenhaul is the mom who won’t use the stroller…can’t remember the character’s name but I was laughing so hard by the end of that ‘evening’….

    Very sweet movie, and definitely worth the rental price!

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