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Away We Go (2009)

Directed by Sam Mendes Written by Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida

  While it may seem as no surprise that people will think what they will on matters such as Politics or Religion, another coming to mind just as easily, is parenting tips/advice. Everyone has their own opinions, remedies and plenty of two cents to throw out to anyone “willing” to listen. Wanna know a not so fun game to play as a parent? Being anywhere outside of your home with several other parents/children (i.e. parks or out in your own neighborhood) and having to listen to all the great and wonderful things their child has mastered at their age. That doesn’t sound like a game, you may find yourself thinking. But make no mistake; for a challenge has just been accepted. Do I genuinely care why you believe your child is the greatest thing to walk the earth?….No. Just like your not going to want to hear about the equally great things that my son does. The whole interaction with other parents (for myself) is always either awkward, eyebrow raising or holding myself back at the pathetic attempt to showcase their child as nothing more than some show dog. So what does that have to do with this film?

Six months into Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) discover that they would be having a baby, receive news of Burt’s parents up and moving to Belgium within the month. Not only were they a main reason for having moved to Denver to begin with but as well, was a month before expecting their grandchild. Unsure of what to do next with the sudden monkey wrench thrown, Verona suggest the notion of traveling “cross-country.” (In actuality, they traveled across the State of Connecticut) First stop being Phoenix where Verona had previously lived as they visit Lily, (Allison Janney) Lowell (Jim Gaffigan) and their two kids. Lily is quite the animated character (to say the least) and seemed to get her joy from the complete embarrassment of her children. Of course, all of this being when she wasn’t busy buying her next drink. As they say their goodbyes Lily give Burt a rather uncomfortable kiss on the mouth as he slowly walks away, entering his vehicle. Pretty obvious at this point that they would not be returning to Phoenix anytime soon. Next up is Tucson where Verona’s sister stayed as they visited her while working. All we really gather from the scenes with her sibling being that they were close and how Grace (Carmen Ejogo) wished her older sister would speak more about their deceased parents and life, before. A short visit as their next trip to Madison is interrupted by workers for the airline insisting that Verona couldn’t be just 6 months; not like she would know anyway right?

LN (pronounced Ellen) is an old friend of Burt’s and obvious hippy in most senses of the word. Upon first setting eyes on her (Maggie Gyllenhaal), we find her breastfeeding her child with her other watching close-by. Verona later offering to get groceries for dinner and returning with a stroller as a gift after hearing of her not having owned one. Her reason: “I love my babies, why would I want to push them away?” Actually, Gyllenhaal’s character may have been the funniest because of how genuine it was. Her and husband Roderick (Josh Hamilton) were able to play off one another so well and Burt’s final reaction to their lifestyle being outright amusing as he finds himself so fed up at this point. Their next visit finds them in Montreal which seems to easily take the lead. Tom (Chris Messina) and Munch (Melanie Lynskey) have a seemingly loving household with their foster children. Regularly going out and otherwise fulfilled with what they are given in life. Except it would seem Munch’s inability to birth their own child has cast a shadow over the couple, having had yet another miscarriage just days prior; their fifth. In a very sincere and real moment we see how well the smiles were able to hide any indication of such with Messina giving a great speech on what it took to make a family. How you had to be so much better than you ever thought, be willing to make a family out of what you’ve been given.

What I have yet to mention concerning the two being that Verona had refused to marry Burt, deeming it unnecessary. Promising to never leave him, though no matter how often asked, politely declining. They do end up making one last stop at Burt’s brothers after learning of his wife having left him, unsure of what to tell his daughter. Once they get to Miami Courtney (Paul Schneider) says he thought that 5 days would be long enough to suggest being on a trip but after those days came, found himself unsure of what to say next. Explaining to Burt how he would have to spend every waking moment trying to reconstruct a normal life but that his little girl would always be without her mother. After this point the two return home and have discussed in full detail by this point of what they promised to one another and how they would turn out to be different. Which is a great and happy thought but just as unlikely, If I’m only being as real as I can on the subject. To feel as though you could or would never impose any of your beliefs and ways onto your child may seem unlikely. We all have “issues” or something about ourselves that may need tuning, in some aspect. What if that exact thing is what you end up pushing onto your child? Or what if the complete opposite occurred and because your busy making a life for you and your child, fail to notice them and be a part of their lives that would be beneficial to them. I don’t mean to turn this into something else; there are just a lot of “heavy” topics that are mildly discussed. While perhaps funny for entertainment purposes, are each wrong in their own as much as they feel right. It’s after this point in the film that they eventually realize as long as they love one another and are with one another, that it was all they needed. Isn’t that special?

Such a great cast was chosen as well. Everyone involved in the project was able to do its script justice and breath a bit of their own breath into each part. From the small bit concerning Burt’s parents, played by Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels, down to a random interaction with a boy named Beckett. “Babies like to breathe, and they’re good at hiding it. I put a pillow over a baby. I thought she wasn’t breathing, but she was. She was sneaky, but I’ll try again.” The delivery of that kid was great. As far as the relationship between Burt and Verona; I thought they worked very well with one another, I just wasn’t sure if I could actually see them together. They did seem to have a language all their own and way of speaking with the other which I liked. John Krasinski has great comedic timing, I just worry of it being non-changing because of how particular it is. Having been a fan of Maya Rudolph’s from her involvement in SNL, I just as equally have been a fan of her slow transition into film. Overall a film that has the undertones of a romantic comedy with the wit and truth used to finding in other lighthearted independent films.