Saturday 12 March 2011

Movie Review: Away We Go (2009)

A movie with its heart in the right place, Away We Go is operating with material so thin it ultimately floats away in the sweet breeze, barely noticeable among all the other happy bugs and crisp leaves.

Verona (Maya Rudolph) and Burt (John Krasinski) are a couple in their early thirties, still relatively unsettled and not established in any city or clear careers. They discover that Maya is pregnant, and six months into the pregnancy, Burt's quirky parents, the only family nearby, announce that they are leaving town to resettle in Belgium. With nothing tying Verona and Burt down, they decide to visit various friends and family members across the US, in the hope of finding a place to call home.

They visit Verona's flaky old boss (Allison Janney) in Phoenix; Verona's unmarried sister (Carmen Ejogo) in Tucson; Burt's highly irritating college friend (Maggie Gyllenhaal), now a married and condescendingly perfect mother, in Madison; other college friends (Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey) with many adopted kids in Montreal; and Burt's married but just-dumped brother (Paul Schneider) in Miami. None of these locales or people resonate with Verona and Burt, but the visits bring them closer to each other and eventually Verona reveals a sad piece of family history, through which they discover where they belong.

A road trip movie with not much of a road and an undefined destination, the only thing Away We Go has going for it is a relatively convincing strong central relationship between Burt and a very pregnant Verona, with Maya Randolph and John Krasinski appearing pleasingly effortless in portraying a deep and sturdy love.

Otherwise, the script by David Eggers and Vandela Vida provides little for director Sam Mendes to work with. The humour is either fake or forced, the secondary characters are conventional visitors from other movies, and the attempts at pathos with the whole seemingly hastily appended story of Verona's parents smacks of desperation.

Away We Go departs quickly, its light weight leaving barely any impression.

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