The ‘he said, she said’ gabby Away We Go could very well be viewed as a comedic alternative to director Sam Mendes’ radically darker Revolutionary Road. Or maybe just a way for the filmmaker with daydreamer wanderlust tendencies, to wind down from that recent claustrophobic morbid venture into suburban family values, twisted and otherwise.
Based on the screenplay by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, this likewise intended matrimonial road movie unfortunately sends out negative vibes before the cinematic journey even begins. Verona (an uncharacteristically glum Maya Rudolph) and Burt (John Krasinski) are a likeable enough interracial couple currently caught by surprise in the metaphorical noose of expectant surprise parenthood, and while also on the brink of turning a corner age-wise into the big 40.
Though likeability in this case does tend to stop at the too much information bedroom door. For instance, do we really need to know during the opening scene of this movie that Burt has a unique talent for detecting flavor variations of female crotches over time?
In any case, the rather immature couple who seem to be commitment challenged in life beyond their loyalty to one another, make an impulsive decision to drop everything and embark on a cross-country search for roots somewhere or other, and a place to nest among a dubious menu of family and old friends. The potential selections on hand to call home, as Verona’s pregancy progresses along the way, by contrast dwindle sharply into an unpalatable, ever exceedingly short list.
First there are Burt’s egotistical boomer parents (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara), who decide at this inopportune moment for the expectant pair, to skip the country on a journey of discovery of their own, while boorishly wondering out loud just how black this baby is going to be. Still later it’s off to Wisconsin, and Burt’s brash New Age cousin (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who insists that having sex in front of children is essential to their emotional development. Other ill-advised pit stops find the equally bad parenting of likely traumatized kids to be funny, or infertility elsewhere as a source of obsessive nagging neurosis.
Away We Go may either encourage skipping parenthood altogether for those who haven’t quite made up their minds yet, or leave a kind of pro-isolationist impression that the grass is always greener on one’s own side of the picket fence. In any case, Away We Go in the opposite direction of the movie theater in question, is recommended.