FOCUS FEATURES (2009)
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal
There will always room for a romantic comedies amongst the vast smorgasbord that is film. While they aren’t as nourishing as a great drama or as clearly detrimental as a B-horror film, Rom-coms are usually a safe bet that they’ll taste okay, even if not giving any real nutritional value. Away We Go is a satisfying example of a film that sits well on the tongue, but maybe doesn’t offer anything more.
Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) are having a baby, but find themselves uncertain with their current living situation. In an attempt to find the perfect place to settle down and raise their child, they venture on a road trip to visit friends and family across the North American continent
As with any solid road film, it’s much more about the journey within themselves than the physical destinations. However, it should be noted that the destinations in which they travel are shot well and offer some beautiful scenes.
The film is very episodic, and relies heavily on Krasinski and Rudolph to carry the film. Luckily, they do have a believable chemistry, and are both very likable actors and likable characters. Before they go off on their search for a new location to live, they have dinner with Burt’s mother (O’Hara) and father (Daniels). It’s the revelation that his parents are moving away that prompt Burt and Verona to reconsider where they’re going to live. As they travel to each new location, director Sam Mendes introduces new dysfunctional characters played by a variety of talent including Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jim Gaffigan, Carmen Ejogo, and others. The absurdity of some behaviors squarely places this film as a comedy, while the chemistry cements the romance.
Even though Burt and Verona are both likable, there is something missing that stops this from being one of the memorable rom-coms. It may be that some of the character quirks are left unaddressed by the film. For example: Burt takes on a persona multiple times when he receives a phone call that is either a) friends or b) business associates, which is ultimately a detail that the film doesn’t make clear. During the scene with his parents, Jeff Daniels takes on a similar voice in the background while answering the phone. It seems like this could be addressed as a potential concern with his impending parental responsibility, but is instead left as just a quirk. While not extremely detrimental, it is an area that feels unexplored and thus less satisfying for the audience.
Conclusively, Away We Go is an enjoyable film, but one that does not do enough to stand out. If you are like me and a fan of the cast, than you’ll probably find the film easy to watch and fun to sit through. However, if not, it’s possible you’ll find this a tedious task to undertake. Away We Go earns the Decent Watch rating.
- Jonathan Berk (berkreviews.com)