Thursday, June 18, 2009

AWAY WE GO (2009)

Written By Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida

Directed By Sam Mendes

Where & When: Landmark West LA, Los Angeles, CA June 17, 2009 5:00PM

The problem I have with Sam Mendes is that although I am a fan and think he is very talented, I just can't say that I really loved any of his films. Starting with "American Beauty", a film I did like a lot but would have preferred if "The Cider House Rules" had won the Oscar that year. Even last year's "Revolutionary Road", I admired the film and the performances but I was not surprised it didn't do much during award season as some had predicted. It was good but definitely was not a great film. So I must say that those feelings continue with his latest offering, "Away We Go" a little, quirky type of film that I like to see. The problem is that compared to another quirky film like "Juno", "Away We Go" is no where near as good or as clever as that film.

We meet Verona (Maya Rudolph) and Burt (John Krasinski) in bed. He is under the covers, pleasuring his girlfriend when he notices something "different" about her. He suspects that she is pregnant. He is correct. Some time later at dinner with parents (Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels) they discover that they are planing to fulfill a life long dream of moving to Belgium for two years. This news upsets Burt and Verona because they moved to Colorado specifically for his parents to be near the new baby.

After considering what they should do, they decide to travel across the country until they find an idea place to raise their forthcoming child. The first stop is Phoenix where they meet up with Verona's former boss, Lily (Allison Janney) and her family. Lily has no filter and says whatever is on her mind and it doesn't matter who is around. Her children are zoned out and her husband pacifies himself with booze. The perfect dysfunctional American family. After spending some time with them, they decide that Phoenix is not an ideal location and they continue on.

Next is Tucson where they visit Verona's sister, Grace (Carmen Ejogo). They lost their parents and they only have each other now. Verona fears she and Burt are slackers and have no direction. Grace reassures her that they are not and reminds her how lucky she is to have Burt. They continue on to Wisconsin where they visit Burt's family friend who he called "cousin" while growing up. Her name is Ellen (Maggie Gyllenhaal) or as she now calls her self LN. She has a couple children and lives with her man. LN is one of those new age, hippie trippy types who has very different views on life and child rearing with a strong aversion to strollers.

After a heated exchange with LN, Burt and Verona head to Montreal to visit a couple, Tom and Munch who were friends in college. They have several multi racial children that they have adopted. On the surface they seem perfectly content but after a few drinks they confess that Munch just had another miscarriage and their sadness in their inability to have a child of their own. Burt gets a call from his brother in Miami. His wife just left him and he doesn't know what to do or how to tell his daughter. They promptly head to Florida. Burt and Verona have traveled many miles but are still unclear of where they should settle down. After some soul searching, they soon realize where "home" really is.

This is a well made film with great performances but none of the characters seemed believable. While some of the dialogue is very funny, it certainly wasn't anything a real person would really say to someone. You will not regret seeing "Away We Go" but on the other hand it is not something you should rush out to see either.