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Away We Go (2009)

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Score: 5/10

Genre: Dramatic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: June 5th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Sam Mendes Actors: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Jeff Daniels

W

hile infinitely more uplifting than his previous film, Sam Mendes’ “Away We Go” doesn’t exactly offer the complexities or dramatic discoveries one might expect from the accomplished director. It does, however, feature impressive performances from both leads, as well as a wide array of entertainingly bizarre depictions of the numerous disgruntled and eccentric people they encounter. The humor is subtle and often dry, but cleverly culled from the relatable unpredictability of life’s many misadventures. Plus, the frequent bouts of unexpected vulgarity and foul language help to keep this quirky dramedy from souring during its more serious reflections.

Soon-to-be parents Burt Farlander (John Krasinski) and Verona De Tessant (Maya Rudolph) decide to travel across the country in an attempt to find the perfect place to start their family. Their sudden concern for planting is fueled by Burt’s parents’ impulsive decision to move to Antwerp for two years. Visiting friends and relatives in Phoenix, Madison, Miami, and Montreal, Burt and Verona share in the triumphs and heartbreaks of others’ lives and soon realize that “home” isn’t about location at all.

Sticking considerably to offbeat conversations such as seahorse infatuations, the inevitable decimation of Tucson by the heat, or the evils of “separation, sugar, and strollers,” “Away We Go” isn’t afraid to tackle a plot executed almost entirely by dialogue. It’s quirky and humorous, but very deadpan, leaving the viewer with little more than the memory of some sardonically vulgar and idiosyncratic exchanges. A battle to be the most peculiar human beings exists as a contest between everyone except for Burt and Verona, and is practically the center of the plot. The other portion is devoted to doubt, unfairness, and uncertainty for the wellbeing of their child, present mainly in pessimistic Verona (trying hard not to adopt the “everything’s already broken” attitude), which forces Burt to play it positive.

The couple is encountering a midlife crisis, unsure of where to turn for support and guidance for raising a baby. It’s not until they witness the extreme bizarreness of Verona’s ex-boss, the selfish spontaneity of Burt’s parents, and the dilemma faced by his brother that they realize nothing is absolute and that their love and devotion will have to be sufficient. “Away We Go” is well mapped out and careful to humor without going overboard, but regularly the melancholy, sad music breaks up the funniness of chaotic everyday life. In their cross-country misadventures, Burt and Verona witness the extremes of whimsicality; the laughs follow easily from such abnormal characters, but no new ground is covered. By the conclusion, the film is a simple comedy with nothing unique enough to separate it from the pack.

– The Massie Twins

 



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