September 28, 2009 -- “Away We Go” is an offbeat road movie about a young couple looking for love in all the wrong places. What they are really looking for is security and a reaffirmation of their love in the face of an uncertain future. What they find is that there is no assurance of a secure future at all, that love, and life, are transitory. They do, however, reaffirm their love for one another and they boldly move ahead into an uncertain future with only their love to guide them. Along the way, there is some very funny comedy as they encounter some whackos and nut jobs, some of whom are relatives and old friends.
Maya Rudolph, the longtime Saturday Night Live star, plays Verona De Tessant, a woman content living with the free-thinking, easy-going Burt Farlander (played by John Krasinski of the TV show “The Office”). This couple (not married) is drifting along pleasantly until Verona gets pregnant and Burt's parents decide to move out of the country for a couple of years. Verona and Burt decide they are no longer tied to a location, so they can move anywhere they want to. They begin traveling from place to place, looking up old friends and relatives, looking for a perfect place to raise their child, who is due to be born in three months.
Their odyssey takes them to the Midwest, Southwestern United States, Canada and Florida. Along the way, they meet some outlandish people. Usually, these people are so weird Verona and Burt can't get out of town fast enough. They maintain their cool most of the time, but lose it when they visit an aggressive New Age couple, LN and Roderick (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Josh Hamilton). After enduring a number of insults, Burt finally has had enough and tells them off, culminating in a defiant run through the house with a baby stroller. It is one of a number of funny scenes in the movie. The comedy is balanced by an equal amount of pathos in the form of miscarriages and a painful divorce.
The result of this odd mix of elements is a film that is both genuinely funny and moving. It is an uneven film, to be sure, but what holds these disparate elements together are some excellent performances by Rudolph and Krasinski, along with Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey, who play college friends Tom and Munch in Montreal, who seem like a perfect couple at first. Director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) makes the drama and comedy work together somehow, although the quirkiness of some of the characters seems too exaggerated. This film rates a B+.
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