“Away We Go,” reviewed

away_we_go_poster

Away We Go: Quirky, depressing. Just my type.

This movie came out three weeks ago, but it was finally in wide release this past Friday. It’s only playing in three theaters in Columbus, and we went to see it at the AMC Lennox. I’d been looking forward to it for a long time, even though there wasn’t much being said about it in the news.

As we were walking in, I saw the poster for it and immediately thought it looked like a “Juno” rip off, and Brandon pointed it out as well. “I know,” I said. “But I really want to like this movie.” I read that Maya Rudolph was the highlight of it, and these days I’ll pretty much support anything with someone from “The Office” in it. I am a sucker for Wes Anderson quirk, for “The Office” awkwardness, and for Michael Cera comedies. I’m emo, and I admit it. They’ve got me as their audience, and I’ll eat up everything created to cater to this genre. Full disclosure here.

That said, I loved “Away We Go.” But it wasn’t perfect. It was kind of frustrating to watch the two main characters do little to improve their lives, at 33 and 34. Of course, the realization that they are going to have a child speeds up their growing progress, but it bothers me that it takes this huge life change to make them finally settle down. But then again, that’s what this movie centers around – finding the place to settle down IN.

At the beginning of the movie, the couple lives in a crappy shack in the town where Burt’s (Krasinski) parents live. But when the grandparents-to-be announce they are moving out of the country for the next two years, and the first two years of their new grandchild’s life, they decide to leave and find a new home. Their jobs are transportable, since Verona (Rudolph) illustrates medical text books and Burt sells insurance over the phone, so they pack up and visit a series of couples they know, to see where their friends live and, if out of those places, they may find one that suits them.

Among those couples are a pair of red-neckish oblivious parents who berate their children loudly and publicly for their unfortunate physical features, and air their dirty laundry with no regard for the comfort level of said children or their present company. Another set of parents works too hard to not screw up their children, raising them in a very unique tradition in which strollers do not exist (There’s that line from the trailer, “I love my children; why would I want to PUSH them AWAY from me?”). This household belief leads to one of the best visual moments of humor in the movie, where Burt, after his partner has been insulted once too often by the mother of the household, coerces the older child into a stroller for a wild ride around the main floor of the house, Maggie Gyllenhaal sprinting after them.

There’s some major heartbreak in this movie, not between the two main characters, but in moments where the cracks of a marriage show. In some cases these cracks bring the two closer, like in the couple who adopt children because they can’t conceive. Other cracks, like Burt’s sister-in-law leaving his brother to raise their daughter alone, seem unable to be repaired. As for the couple who can’t conceive, their most humanizing scene is the saddest one you’ll ever see take place at a strip club in a movie.

Rudolph really was amazing in this movie, and she wasn’t the comedian from SNL that I thought I knew. She brought a lot of levels to her character, someone whose parents died when she was in college, with a younger sister who seems somewhat determined to make her talk about them. Give me a heart-wrenchingly strong female character who resists marriage and has a dead parent or two and I am all about it, right?

It’s a fun travel movie. Even though a lot of the characters were a little over the top, and there were a couple too many hushed conversations between Burt and Verona about what kind of parents they hope not to be, I loved it. I’m trying to think of someone I can make go see it with me again. Any takers? In any event, it’s definitely one I’m going to buy down the road.

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2 thoughts on ““Away We Go,” reviewed

  1. I would agree with you that some of the characters are over-the-top, but I promise you, there are plenty of people drifting along even into their early 30s–truth be told, I actually identified with that, and most people my age (31) I’m friends with are in similar straits.

    I know I told you about Eggers’ background (lost both of his parents to cancer within a month of each other when he was in his early 20s), but you may not know that Maya Rudolph lost her mother, a well-known disco-era singer, when Rudolph was 7 (her mom died of breast cancer at age 31). I wonder how much that experience informed her performance, which, I agree, was first-rate.

  2. I totally forgot about Maya Rudolph’s famous mom! I knew she died young, but I didn’t remember how. I am glad she agreed to this role.

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