Sunday, September 29, 2013

Away We Go (2009)

Away We GoLike all road pictures, AWAY WE GO is about a couple in their early thirties trying to discover themselves (and what kind of home and family they want to create for themselves) through a round of visits in the sixth month of the pregnancy. I've never been a huge fan of Dave Eggers, but the script that he wrote with Vendela Vida is a brilliant one. The structure of the film is simple: Burt (THE OFFICE's Jim Krasinski) and Verona (SNL's Maya Rudolph) have moved to a small, cold house entirely so that they can live near Burt's parents. But after learning that they will be moving to Antwerp a month before their baby is due, they realize that they don't need to live any longer in a town where they have no friends and, now, no relatives. They plan a long trip that will see them visiting friends and relatives in a number of locations, including Scottsdale, Tucson, Montreal, and Miami. They see people whose lives they would like to emulate and those they would not.

And along the way hilarity ensues. The scenes between Burt and Verona are frequently hysterical, though when they are meeting their friends or relatives they tend to become "straight men" and the humor shifts over to the others. Although several people are absolutely outstanding, two actors deserve special mention. First, Allison Janney is absolutely hysterical as Verona's former boss in Chicago (more about Chicago in a second). She is, putting it simply, a nightmare of a mother. But in the most hysterical of ways. (Now on Chicago. Verona mentions working in Chicago and she is shown to be a medical illustrator. This is not unconnected with Chicago; in fact, there is a direct correlation between medical illustration and Chicago, since the most important medical illustration program is at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School. Odds are that if someone has studied medical illustration, they did it there.) The second actor who stands out is Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays a college professor and old friend of Burt who and the embracer of more fringe and nutzoid ideas than one can imagine. Her ideas, and those of her husband, are so absurd that given gentle, placid Burt can take no more.

But the major kudos have to go to Krasinski and Rudolph, who manage to create two characters we come to like a great deal and who we very much hope will come to understand precisely what they and where they want to have it. This is an especially enjoyable film given the overwhelming amount of special effects fare at this time of the year. This is an intelligent film that also manages to be very, very funny. It is currently in somewhat limited release, but when you get a chance to see it, do so.

This movie was a charming look at a couple that is struggling to define themselves and to find their place in the world. The comedy was perfectly placed and well written. The story lines were honest and believable glimpses into various peoples very different lives. The main couple visits friends and family around North America trying to find where they would fit. What they find out is that they don't really fit any of those places and they have to make their own way in the world. Excellent movie, one of the best of 2009.

Buy Away We Go (2009) Now

My husband and I really liked this movie. We were laughing and laughing until the couple got to Montreal, their fourth stop, and then we were in tears: "She had a miscarriage on Thursday. Her fifth."

Bert and Verona seem like us late to have a child, still living in a cluttered rented house, asking, "Are we F--K Ups?" They arrive at the beautiful door of old friends and say, "Wow, they seem so grown up." Those were my exact feelings on reconnecting with a childhood friend last winter who is FAR more established than us. Our furniture is hand-me downs, unpainted pine shelves and dusty milk crates stuffed with reference books. Every room in my friend's house looked decorated and cared for (but did she have books? I don't recall). Seeing it made me realize that I was still inhabiting this fantasy that I was still a graduate student...but then I realized that I am the age my mother was when I happened to be in middle school, so thus I am not young, just too poor to have a pretty decorated house with art on the walls. At least the spines on my texts are colorful.

Bert and Verona have no roots Verona's parents are dead, her sister lives in a different city, and Bert's parents are about to embark on their own journey abroad, in Belgium. It is curious to me now to see that the concept of growing up and going away to college, leaving your family and your hometown behind, often leaves you with no roots at all if you keep traveling, after college, as I have. It is an interesting idea, then, to decide in the sixth month of pregnancy to go visit one's old friends, as Bert and Verona do, to see if they'd like to settle near them. It is a question I often ask myself...should I move back to California? What about Portland? What if we just moved back somewhere on the I-5 corridor, which would be more civilized than here? How deep are my roots here after all, now that I have taught seven cohorts of 7th graders and my daughter is now four?

I really liked Bert and Verona and the way they made each other laugh, the way they comforted each other, and their subtle communication when they are guests in their friends' houses. If they were real people, I would have no doubt that once their child was born, they would slowly gather back a community of other new parents.

This movie makes me remember the last days of my marriage before we became parents, and what people said to us. Both ridiculous and moving.

Read Best Reviews of Away We Go (2009) Here

At the butt-end of last year Sam Mendes directed a film called Revolutionary Road. This was a masterpiece, truly deserving of that title. It's his best film hands down! His previous films American Beauty and Road To Perdition weren't too shabby either. They all have a sense of darkness and foreboading. The dark foreboading element is missing from his current film Away We Go, and that is not a bad thing.

The basic set-up is simple and understandable in that movie universe sort of way, but two winning performances from leads Mya Rudolph and Chris Krisinski really help this thing over some of the comedy set-up trappings. Rudolph is an actress that I've known from SNL and that's it, I've not seen here in anything else. Surprisingly, she ends up playing straight-man to Krisinski. And you she gives a very touching and honest performance, and I see a great career outside anything resembling comedy in her future. Krisinski is an actor I've never seen in anything. I've been informed that he is one of the stars of the American version of The Office, and he, like Rudolph, is someone I want to see more of. He plays affable in this film like a pro. He's an optimist and a realist all in one heartwarming stroke. He's the goofier of the couple but it comes off more like it's part of his character and his personality and less like comedy schtick. Together I would watch any film premise about this pairing.

This is a real couple, not a made up movie couple. This is my favorite part of this film. The plot is cute and similar to that of the great film Flirting With Disaster, but the unmarried leads make this film above average. They don't have silly, pointless and melodramatic arguments to up the conflict factor most these type of films contrive for the sheer 'entertainment' value. Sorry, folks, this is about real people not the cyphers that make up the world of most sitcoms and Rom-Coms.

The first and one of the best examples I can conjur up in regard to this point is an early scene of the couple driving to Krisinski's parents' house(played hysterically but briefly by Jeff Daneiels and Catherine O'Hara). Krisinski, who sells insurance by phone, gets a call from a client and puts on an obnoxious 'offcial business' voice that irritates Rudolph. She pulls over the car and gently steps out. He catches up to her and they flirt. There's no silly argument of the two complaining about themselves. They know each other so well and truly love each other to the point that they know each others' faults, quirks and everything in between. This is what it is like to truly know, understand and love each other. Little touches like this really make this film rise abvove the rest.

This is a road movie so we meet various other side characters that help emphasise and illustrate versions of family life and modern couplings. We get some great cameo by Maggie Gyllenhal as a very liber4al new-agey type who supplies some o the film's funniest situational comedy. Most of the humor comes from an honest place and not joke set-ups. Not all of the humor, but most. The constant change in locale is a comedy contrivance in itself but we forgive it because the characters are so engaging and real.

The film is not without its flaws. The premise is a bit obvious and basically negligiable. The final emotional conclusions are obvious long before they arrive, but they are executed and performed so flawlessly it's easy to forgive this flaw.

I'm happy to see Mendes broaden inot this territory. It's not as dark, and it's not about miserable people, but rather real people. They are self-proclaimed "F@#$CK ups". It's a story of late bloomers. They're just making it and fitting the pieces together a little slower then the rest of us. No big career destinations, no big dreams, they're just living their lives and loving each other honestly. It's quite lovely. Starting their unexpected family is as natural to them as never becoming a wedded couple. This is life, but rather contrived in a more entertaining movie way.

Want Away We Go (2009) Discount?

AWAY WE GO isn't a great movie but it is certainly entertaining. The story revolves around a thirty-something couple who are about to have their first child. When things don't go as planned, they decide to pull stakes and look for a new home. In its own way, AWAY WE GO reminded me of the Little Prince, who went from planet to planet, meeting strange new people. This couple's search unearths the odd, kind, bizarre, tragic, and confused, who unknowingly show the couple how normal they really are.

There are moments in AWAY WE GO that are very funny, and a few that are sad or touching. Most of the dialog is above average. All of the actors are credible and competent. Maya Rudolph, of SNL fame, is actually very good. The only other feature I've seen her in was Idiocracy, where she seemed to be playing a character more suited to Saturday Night Live. Here, she shows that she can play real characters instead of just caricatures.

The overall pacing of AWAY WE GO is a little slow, but it is still worth watching. I'd be reluctant to watch it twice, but I would if I had to. Three times is probably out of the question. RECOMMENDED.

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