Away We Go (To The Fucking Nuthouse as a Result of Seeing This Movie)
Published on June 30th, 2009
Customarily, cutting one’s wrists is frowned upon by medical professionals, but I think, in the case of having to watch Sam Mendes‘ latest directorial effort, they might understand one’s need to relieve the pain somehow. The premise alone of Away We Go should be indication enough that it is the latest in the sudden swell of indie movies being made in the aftermath of Juno (the upcoming releases of Paper Heart and 500 Days of Summer are concrete evidence of this new mold of awkward romantic comedies triumphing over past formulas of normalcy perfected by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere and Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn before them).
Ooh, look how fanciful we are.
The opening scene wastes no time in trying to prove itself in terms of how orignial it is in the no holds barred display of the unnecessary realism of oral sex once domesticity has permeated a relationship. Attempts at pushing the envelope are made with this scene, but this entire part just ends up being ultra uncomfortable and not in the cutting edge sort of Pulp Fiction/Mulholland Drive way. I suppose it was screenwriters Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida who thought Burt’s (John Krasinski) discovery that his girlfriend Verona (Maya Rudolph) is pregnant would be best revealed by him saying, “You taste different.”
Another scene with Burt and Verona lumbering around together
Once Burt and Verona realize they’re in a pregnancy pickle, they set off to various parts of the country in search of a place to raise their family. This is only after Burt’s parents (played by Jeff Daniels and the increasingly typecast Catherine O’Hara) inform them that they’re moving to Belgium for two years. With the grandparent factor a non-issue, Verona suggests that there is no reason for them to stay where they are. And so begins the whirlwind journey from Phonenix to Madison to Montreal to Miami. But not before a maudlin discussion wherein Verona asks Burt, “Are we fuck-ups for not having figured this stuff out already?” I guess it’s a profound question by twenty-first century standards.
Jeff Daniels and Catherine O'Hara as Burt's kooky parents
From there, the film progresses at an insanely slow pace. So slow, in fact, that the most action packed scene is when Burt pushes a kid around in a stroller in his cousin’s (an extremist new agey type played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) living room. I mean, there’s more excitement in a Jim Jarmusch movie. The only real saving grace is one of the Juno cast herself, Allison Janney. Like Catherine O’Hara, Janney has been relegated to the niche role of inappropriate white trash mother. Yet, it is a role that she has perfected and is, incidentally, the only decent aspect of Away We Go.
Allison Janney as Lily, Verona's gregarious ex-boss in Phoenix
Naturally, Verona and Burt eventually find a place to call home, though it is not in any of the cities they actually set out to find it in. So, to sum up, Verona and Burt mill around together and discuss how confused they are, occasionally having run-ins with old friends. All in all, my recommendation is to bring a razorblade with you to the theater or just watch Juno again because at least it’s the prototype for this genre.