Away We Go - DVD Review

'a romantic comedy directed by a man who knows you don't need Jennifer Aniston, a big budget or a studio-approved formula script to make something romantic or funny'

Some reviews for Away We Go (although frustratingly I am struggling to find them now) seemed to suggest that you could only enjoy the film if you were at 'a certain point in your life'. Presumably, having now see Sam Mendes' road trip-cum-journey of discover movie, that 'certain point' would see you being somewhere in your mid-thirties and, ideally, pregnant. Of course, it's a fairly pointless criticism. Following the same rules with other films would mean Up, for example, could only be enjoyed by children of age twelve (for the animation) or retired and widowed geriatrics. It's also pointless because I am neither in my mid-thirties nor, so far as I am aware, pregnant and I found Away We Go to be honest, entertaining, affecting and highly enjoyable.

If there is a facet of the film open to criticism then it is perhaps that Mendes tries to pack too much parental philosophising in to too short and breezy a run time (a tight ninety-eight minutes). As we follow Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) on a cross-country tour of friends and family such issues as adoption, miss-carriage, family values and having a life outside of your kids are covered - and that's just in one of the many couples the duo bump in to! Sometimes it feels like Mendes has so much to say on the subject that he needed two films to say it in, rather than attempting to cram it all in here, occasionally suffocating his characters with somewhat clunky expositions of parental tactics and experience.

But despite this, you'll find yourself hard pressed to watch Away We Go without frequently breaking out into a smile. Sent on their magical mystery tour by way of Burt's moronically crazy parents (a mad cap Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels) deciding to leave the local area in favour of Belgium, the couple muddle their way through awkward interactions with outlandish figures from their past (Verona's ex-boss, Burt's hippie friend) and closer family and friends (Burt's brother, their now married college room mates). At each turn, Burt and Verona seem to get further and further away from the 'good parenting' and 'happy home' they are looking for but emerge, perhaps predictably, wiser for the experience.

If you are at the 'certain point' in your life when you're looking to settle down and start a family then Away We Go will probably have plenty to say to you. Krasinski and Rudolph have a great familial chemistry on screen and their situation is both believable in its normality and fantastical enough to remain engaging. If you're not at that point though then there's still plenty here for you. At its heart this is basically a romantic comedy directed by a man who knows you don't need Jennifer Aniston, a big budget or a studio-approved formula script to make something romantic or funny. Mendes' touch is light and hilarious when appropriate and nastily vindictive when the 'bad parents' are identified. This is a director on top form who not only knows exactly what he's doing but how, when, where and why he's doing it and you don't need to be pregnant to sit back and enjoy that.

Look further...

'Krasinski and Rudolph blew me away. They, who are comedy legends in their [own] right, show amazing dramatic depth' - The Movie Encyclopedia, See It

1 comment:

  1. I've read a few of those reviews, as well. I agree with you 100%. What an idiotic argument. I recently watched it for the second time and found that it was even funnier. I really understood the characters the second time through and they became all the more sincere.
    "Why would I want to push my child away!?" :)