Away We Go (2009)

Sam Mendes has made some exceptional films in his ten-year career. I thought that after the release of Revolutionary Road, he would wait three years to have another film come out. He surprised me when he deviated from the heavy dramas to do the comedy, Away We Go. I was looking forward to this movie last summer, but I was heavy into my Classic Movie Month that I missed this movie. I’m glad I did, but it not up to par with some of his other films.

A young unmarried couple in their early thirties, Burt and Verona (John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph) are living in a dilapidated mobile home near Burt’s parents, Gloria and Jerry Farlander (Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels) when they realized that they are expecting their first baby. They are living nearby so that their child could be near their grandparents. The problem is that parents drop an atomic bomb on them by saying that they are living the country to go to Belgium for two years.

Burt and Verona decide to go on a cross-country trip to fins a suitable place to raise child. Their first stop is Phoenix where the two meet’s Verona’s former co-worker, Lily (Alison Janney) at a local dog track, who tries to be hip with her out dated lingo and brash comments about her deflated boobs and her “dykey” daughter. They an awkward conversation with Lily’s husband, Lowell (Jim Gaffigan) about some random subject that you don’t give two shits about.

On to the next city, the couple visit Verona’s younger sister in Tucson, Grace (Carmen Ejogo) where Verona confides to her that she is scared about commitment and raising their child because their parents died a decade earlier and that Verona doesn’t want to talk about it.

After the brief visit, they have to take a train to see Burt’s hippie “cousin” Ln Fisher-Herrin (Maggie Gylleenhaal) in Madison. She is a free spirit that shares a communal bed with her husband, Roderick (Josh Hamilton) and their two kids, Wolfie and Neptune (Bailey Harkins, Brendan and Jaden Spitz). Over dinner, they clash about their differing philosophies about parenting styles. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Final stop on their weird jounrye is to Montreal where they meet Verona’s old college roommates, Tom and Munch Garrett (Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey) who are Brangelina-like without the fame and fortune. They have mini-United nations that are mourning the loss of another baby by miscarriage. (Damn, that was depressing to write.) They think that want to move to Montreal, but they might have second thoughts when a family emergency happens.

The movie is uncomfortable to watch. It’s brutal good, it’s brutal weird. There is some semblance of brilliance, particularly with Rudolph’s character as she is tortured by trying to reconcile with her parent while not having control of her family’s future.

I didn’t like Krasinski’s character of Burt. He is a big clueless doofus that you wonder how he could be fully functioning person that doesn’t know the difference between cobbling and carving to be a good father to the baby. Next, most of the people that they meet on their journey are unmemorable. They are just weird, fucked up people that should examined by a professional.

I think that Mendes tried too hard to make this movie look indie. He had the tropes of a typical indie with the character staring blankly at the camera where the rest of the world passing by them, the awkward exchanges in a car, the dramatic monologue at the ends where a character has an epiphany and has to pontificate about it or have overtly-eccentric characters that are caricatures.

I didn’t hate the movie. I’m glad I watched it but it need to trim the fat a bit. Flesh out some of the characters.

Judgment: I don’t if I can recommended this movie. Maybe for Sam Mendes’ fans. I guess.

Rating: ***

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on January 25, 2010, in 2009, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Independent, Romantic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m actually relieved to hear you didn’t like this. Everyone I know has been giving it high praise and I don’t dig romances anyway, but it IS Sam Mendes and I’m a fan of his work, but something about the trailers left me unsettled, and the plot wasn’t interesting enough for me to care.

    I’ll still watch it eventually, but it was refreshing to get a contrasting point of view.

    • I was listening to a couple podcasts that absolutely hated this movie. I can see that especially with the wacky characters. The scenes with Burt and Verona are very good. I wish it was more of that then the wacky characters.

      Some people put it on their best of 2009 list. I don’t know why. Different tastes for different people.

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