Friday, July 03, 2009

Movie Log: Away We Go

Date Night has been very rare lately at the Hornswoggler house, but on Thursday -- perhaps inspired by the recent example set by Our President -- the children were bundled off to their grandparents for the night, so that The Wife and Your Humble Correspondent could go out to dinner and then a movie. The movie was Away We Go, which struck me as a belated thirtysomething reply to Garden State. (It has very little in common with Juno other than a pregnancy, despite what some marketers would have you believe.)

Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are an unmarried couple, but have been one for a long time. (They went to college together, and are now in their early thirties; they might even have been together that whole time, though the movie never says so explicitly.) Verona is six months pregnant with their first child, which was not precisely planned but is very welcome. And they're living somewhere cold and dreary -- I got a vague New England impression, but that's not important -- because it's close to his parents (hers are long-dead). But then his parents declare that they're moving to Antwerp for two years, and Burt and Verona realize that they can do their jobs (reinsurance broker and medical illustrator, respectively) anywhere.

So, in the grand American tradition, they set out to audition different places to live in -- Phoenix, because Verona's old boss lives there; Madison, WI, because Burt's cousin and a potential new job for him are there; and Montreal, where their best couple friends from college live. Away We Go sees Verona and Burt travel to each of those places in turn, and then to other places as well. Along the way, they learn that some people are really appalling in ways they wouldn't be able to stand, and that other people are not nearly as together and grown-up and organized as they had thought. (The undercurrent of the movie is Verona and Burt's low-key semi-panic about not having the roots and connections that they expect real adults would automatically have.)

In the end, they do find the right place, though it's a bit of a cliche. (And more than a little reductive, with an implicit "people should stay in their places" moral that doesn't entirely sit well in a movie about a casually interracial couple.) But it is a nice place, and they do like it, so it'll be just fine for them and their baby.

Away We Go is an episodic movie, with five entirely different small supporting casts, one for each of the places Burt and Verona visit, and it works mostly because all of the major characters are played by solid actors like Catherine O'Hara and Maggie Gylenhaal and Allison Janney, who take their occasionally broad parts and humanize them all. All of the people in this movie feel entirely real; you wouldn't want to be near half of them for very long, but they're very like real-world annoyances. Krasinski and Rudolph hold the whole thing together with a naturalistic grace and solid chemistry; they feel like a real couple, like people who have been together for a long time and know each other well. Away We Go isn't one of the great movies of the year, but it's a thoughtful, funny, touching movie for adults about adults, and there's always room for more of those.

Listening to: Richard Thompson & Raymond Kane - Time Has Told Me [Live 1981]
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment