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Away We Go
BLU-RAY disk
Sep 28, 2009 By: Jason Adams
Away We Go order download
Director:
Sam Mendes

Actors:
Jon Krasinski
Maya Rudolph
Maggie Gyllenhaal

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When an expecting couple realizes they no longer have any real ties to the place where they live, they set out across the country to find the perfect place to raise their new child.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
AWAY WE GO is another winner from Sam Mendes. Tonally, it’s completely different than anything the director has done up to this point; lighthearted and humorous, but deep with the emotions and solid character work that we’ve come to expect from him. While many of his films up to this point have focused on the tumultuous and fractured nature of people and their relationships, AWAY WE GO looks at the strength we can also share. Burt and Verona avoid the clichés of most film romances. There’s no cleverly scripted bickering, no major set pieces spotlighting their differences, and definitely not big fight that splits them up until the movie’s climax. No, the pair just exists as a normal couple dealing with their situation and issues. It’s refreshing to say the least.

A big part of that praise is due to the endearing performance by “The Office’s” Jon Krasinski and a surprisingly soulful turn by “Saturday Night Live” alum Maya Rudolph. Both have great chemistry together and are able to balance the intrinsic comedy with the dramatic parts. The other couple that gets high marks are writers Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida. I’m a big fan of Dave Eggers work, fiction and non-fiction, but I was a little afraid that his cerebral and eclectic humor wouldn’t translate well to the screen, but the script is well-balanced and accessible and maintains Eggers sensibilities. It manages to be unique (aka quirky) but not pretentious, and not as “hipster” as much as I feared.

The film is episodic, broken up by the different cities Burt and Verona visit, which is a good method for showcasing a great supporting cast (most of whom only have a few minutes of screentime, sadly). Some of these vignettes are great and a meaningful, like the simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking episode with Melanie Lynskey and Chris Messina, some silly fun like Maggie Gyllenhaal’s. However, it’s hard not to compare, with some definitely stronger than others. I thought Allison Janney and Jim Gaffigan’s detour, while funny, was a little bit too over the top and didn’t seem to fit in the rest of the movie, or say anything as relevant. I also thought the end, while sweet and an emotional payoff, was the one predictable part of a film that prides itself on its impulsiveness.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Sam Mendes, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida: This is definitely a funny track that aims to entertain, and succeeds. All three are quick on their feet and on the mark with their comments and their professional and personal relationships definitely show. A nice complement to the material.

Making Of: At around 16 minutes, this feature doesn’t stray much from the usual interviews and marketing fluff of similar DVD extras, but I like all the people involve so it wasn’t too painful.

Green Filmmaking: An obvious pat on the pack from everybody for their efforts to make the production as earth friendly as possible. Smarmy.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
AWAY WE GO is wonderful—a fun, refreshing and upbeat movie with a great cast, writers and a director who feels like he’s finally branching out. Indie fans are sure to love it, but I see no problem in it finding a much wider mainstream audience.

Extra Tidbit: Melanie Lynskey starred in Peter Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES with Kate Winslet, who is married to director Sam Mendes, thus affirming the circle of life.
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