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Away We Go (2009)

by on 2010/04/04

I’m not quite sure how to feel about Away We Go.  It presents such a collision of high- and low-brow dramedy that it actually confuses me.  It is, among many other things:

  • a self-consciously quirky, awkward would-be art film;
  • a sporadically affecting road movie anthology;
  • a one-way parade of genuinely irritating-yet-familiar characters;
  • a showcase for the considerable charms of John Krasinski.

It’s a mishmash of the sort defensible by filmmakers as representating “reality”.  The trouble is, while it may be occasionally interesting, only rarely is it fun, insightful, or edifying.  I feel about these movies much as I do about games like The Sims.  Why should I spend my own life watching (or playing) someone else’s, particularly if it’s not more interesting than my own?

To put it in a more cinematic context, I’d lump it in with such fashionable pretentions as Broken Flowers, Garden State, Juno, The Virgin Suicides, and almost anything directed by Wes Anderson.  The main difference in this case was that I personally had more in common with the protagonists, or could imagine myself in their situation.

I’ve written about two hundred words so far without actually describing the story.  I’m hesitant to do so because I suspect the style of the movie is both so overt and transparent that any plot, no matter its substance, will live or die by a viewer’s ability to tolerate its presentation.  Given the aforementioned comparisons to other movies, you may already know whether you’ll enjoy this one or not.

For the sake of due diligence, though:  John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play Burt and Verona, a thirty-something couple expecting their first child.  Concerned that they are unable to provide an acceptable upbringing, they tour a succession of cities across America and Canada, visiting friends and relatives, evaluating possible homes.

Like another recently-reviewed movie, I Love You Man, here is a case where the trailer says almost everything worth saying, in a more entertaining way (misleadingly so, in fact).  I’m too old to be blamed for having an MTV attention span.  While it does gain some benefit from the film’s deliberate pacing — breathing room, if you will — the truth is there’s almost too little substance here for a full length movie.  To put it in the parlance of my generation (and that of the protagonists), Away We Go would make a better After-School Special, or maybe even a One to Grow On mini-series.

* * *

Rated R for adult situations and language

97 minutes

  1. grushenka permalink

    Umm, I have observed stories involving birthing make you sort of angry. And by sort of angry, I mean really, really angry.

    Remember that time you punched a shepherd at the Christmas pageant just before the baby Jesus was born unto Mary?

    I wonder if this is all based on some sort of supressed past trauma.

    But I don’t know you that well so I really can’t say.

    John Krasinski rules!

  2. Hacker Renders permalink

    I’ve had time to mull this theory over.

    It’s probably fifty-fifty at best. While I’ve had adverse reactions (mourning sickness?) to such recent preg-pop hits as Away We Go, Juno, and Knocked Up, there are just as many similar (but better) movies I did actually enjoy: Nine Months, Parenthood, Three Men and a Baby, and the Father of the Bride movies come to mind.

    Didn’t you point out once that Maya Rudolph was also pregnant in A Prairie Home Companion? I loved that movie. Loved, loved, loved it. It changed my life. (Not because she was pregnant, mind you.)

    And yes, John Krasinski does rule. Without his presence, this movie wouldn’t have gotten as good a review.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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