Friday, July 10, 2009

Movie Review: Away We Go

Rated: R

Website: Away We Go official site

Starring: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal

My Review: Away We Go is a sometimes sweet, sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, quirky indie film that is enjoyable in the moment, but probably won’t stick with you once it’s over. It’s a good example of a rental for a weekend when there’s nothing to do, where you’ll say, “Wow, so-and-so was a lot better than I thought he/she would be.” But due to having a free movie pass and a bit of a crush on John Krasinski, I went to see it in the theater.

The story follows the road trip of Burt and Verona, who are expecting their first child, as they travel to various cities looking for the perfect place to call “home” for their new family. Living a sort of bohemian/hobo lifestyle in a tiny, overcrowded house in chilly Denver for the sole purpose of being near Burt’s parents, they decide to find a more desirable location after his parents announce they’re moving to Europe for the next two years. They visit various family and friends in Phoenix, Tucson, Madison, Montreal, and Miami, hoping to find both the perfect location and the perfect role models for the sort of family they want to create. But while each location has an initial appeal, none are the home Burt and Verona are looking for.

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph both put in impressive performances as Burt and Verona. Since both are primarily comedic television actors I was apprehensive about seeing them star together in an indie comedy-drama, but their performances were both touching and funny, and most impressive of all, convincing. Allison Janney is a bit over the top as an obnoxious former coworker of Verona’s, but Jim Gaffigan’s portrayal of her subdued and somewhat miserable husband is both hilarious and depressing.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is the biggest standout secondary character, as a neo-hippie mother who is a friend of Burt’s family, but her character is so over the top that I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the writers or of Gyllenhaal overacting. Everyone knows how annoying parents who judge the parenting ways of others can be, especially those who will preach to you of how you’re destroying your child’s life by bottle feeding, and Gyllenhaal portrays that deftly. But while her overwrought aversion to using a stroller leads up to one of the movie’s funniest moments, it’s so unrealistic that anyone would react like that and that people like Burt and Verona would even be friends with her. Away We Go is at its best when it stays within the realm of believability of a young couple looking for home, but on a few occasions some of the characters behave too much like a character, giving what is a sweet yet flawed film an uneven feel.

Bottom Line: Away We Go is enjoyable, and while some of the supporting roles can delve into unrealistic territory, seeing Krasinski and Rudolph playing against type (and playing it well) is a treat. And so my unrequited crush on John Krasinski continues on…

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