Away We Go
WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
Burt and Verona are a happily unhitched couple who learn they are about to have a baby. When they find out that Burt's thoughtless parents are moving to Belgium(!) for two years, taking with them the young couple's sole reason for living in Colorado, they embark on a city-by-city quest to visit friends and family in order to determine where best to bring up their newborn.
WHO'S IN IT?
The Office's John Krasinski (hidden under a full beard obviously designed to give him some "character") and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) are low-key in the extreme in Away We Go as an unmarried pair who just don't seem to have a clue what to do with their lives now that they are expecting. After being basically tossed aside by Burt's parents, played by Jeff Daniels and Catherine O'Hara, they embark with carefree abandon on a pointless road trip to check out possible futures and fill the 97-minute running time. First up is a visit to Phoenix, where Verona catches up with an overbearing loudmouth co-worker played by Allison Janney (The West Wing), who basically delights in insulting her own screwed-up children. Jim Gaffigan gets the thankless job of her repressed hubby. Another stop is at the Wisconsin home of Burt's childhood "cousins," where they encounter the now very "new age" parents played with excruciating shrillness by the normally wonderful Maggie Gyllenhaal and Josh Hamilton. These two are so pretentiously self-absorbed you want to throw stuff at the screen. Then it's on to Montreal for a visit with the expectant couple's old college classmates (Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey), whose adopted kids are obsessed with performing production numbers from The Sound of Music and merely cover for a deeper secret that is revealed in a strip club (!) the foursome attend. Finally, a family emergency forces them to take a detour to Miami to visit Burt's brother (smartly acted by Paul Schneider) who, compared to everyone else we meet along the way, is at least not a stupid dolt.
This forgettable little piffle has the germ of a good idea and is competently directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road), but considering his formidable screen and stage work, you have to wonder what he ever saw in this thing to begin with.
A top drawer cast is COMPLETELY wasted and forced to play dopey stereotypes that have no relation to life as we know it. What can you say when even the insanely talented Maggie Gyllenhaal is forced to utter lines like, "So sorry to hear about your tilted uterus" or "Burt, I reject your aggression!" The film lacks real credibility and most importantly any semblance of heart.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Netflix. But instead of getting Away We Go, rent the Audrey Hepburn/Albert Finney 1967 classic Two for the Road, a far more enlightening and entertaining movie cut from the same cloth. It's FAR superior in every way to Away We Go even though it's 42 years old.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.