On DVD: Away We Go


Family comedy is a genre that garners a lot of rolling eyes these days. Families have been categorized and stereotyped. The kids are crazy. The parents fight. They make up. Even pregnancy movies are that way. Are they ready to have the baby? Will they keep? Will it keep them together or tear them apart. “Away We Go” avoids all of this. Is it about expecting parents and starting a family? Absolutely, but in a refreshing way.

The film is largely soft-spoken with some quirky humor thanks to the oddest supporting cast of characters you might ever see. It is indeed directed by “American Beauty” filmmaker Sam Mendes, but “Away We Go” is a completely different film. This is an exercise in versatility for Mendes and an honorable one that he pulls off as well as any of his films. The script comes form Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, two writers previously un-integrated into the Hollywood sphere. So in many senses “Away We Go” is like a newborn — there’s just a crisp, organic feeling to it.

Burt (John Krasinski of “The Office”) and Verona (former SNL regular Maya Rudolph) are an unmarried couple expecting a baby girl who after learning Burt’s parents will be moving away from them before the baby’s born decide they have an opportunity to pick somewhere completely new to start their family. Throughout the film they travel and meet up with friends and relatives, each with a unique set of circumstances and all of whom teach them a little more about what it means to start a family.

The film is not about them not being married and definitely not about whether they’re keeping the baby or anything like that. They’re completely in love, you can tell they’ll make great parents; they just want to raise their little girl in a positive environment. Through all the wacky friends they meet up with along the way, both they and the audience begin to realize just how crucial environment really is.

The phenomenal supporting cast members range from Jeff Daneils and Catherine O’Hara as Burt’s parents to a hysterical and ridiculous Allison Janney as Verona’s former boss out in Phoenix who clearly has an unhappy marriage with two desensitized kids. Then there’s the film’s diversion to Madison, Wisconsin where LN (Maggie Gyllenhaal) pushes her ridiculous parenting philosophy upon Burt and Verona. The script essentially creates a physical journey out of a couple’s quest of how and where they should raise a child.

Krasinski and Rudolph, however, are the ones that hold this film together. Krasinski takes the sweetness of his “Office” character Jim and turns it into a completely goofy but serious guy in Burt and Rudolph, always considered a comedienne, brings a surprising amount of warmth and range to Verona.

“Away We Go” is an honest, sweet, likable film that provides so many different examples of characters and situations that bring unique perspective and insight about parenting, family and when it’s all said and done, what home really is. We often let the concept of “home is where the heart is” fall by the wayside, but this film finds a new way to remind us about its eternal truth.

4/5 Stars

Away We Go
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida
Starring: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph


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