Bruce Sallan: "Away We Go" is the newest movie from director Sam Mendes ("Road to Perdition," "American Beauty") and, unlike his bigger budgeted studio productions, this feels like a labor of love; like an independent film.
"Away We Go" is a charming movie with just the right mix of humor, reality, and poignancy. It had this viewer laughing, relating, and crying at various times -- which, given my cynical view of Hollywood lately, is quite an achievement.
Oddly enough, it feels like the movie companion piece to a book I reviewed for momlogic called American Parent by Sam Apple (check back tomorrow to read that one). That book was about a soon-to-be father's journey of discovery that began when his wife became pregnant. He researched various trends in parenting and giving birth, and approached it all with a healthy dose of wonder and are-you-kidding-me, particularly when he dealt with some of the fringe movements.
So, too, does "Away We Go" take its characters on a journey, this time a literal one as the lead couple, Brad (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph), decide they want a new place to live once they have their baby. On the journey, they meet friends and family, each of whom brings us a story of their own, from the wackiness (in the most new-age way) of friend LN (played wonderfully by Maggie Gyllenhaal) to the outright craziness of former coworker Lily (Allison Janney), who displays a remarkable lack of common sense in the things she spouts in front of her children.
Each stop along the way reinforces the true love that Brad and Verona feel for one another, while also scaring the hell out of them that they might end up like the various friends and family they encounter -- including Brad's brother, whose wife has just abandoned him and their young daughter.
Near the end of the movie, there's a wonderful scene where Brad and Verona are lying on the trampoline in the backyard of his brother's home. She has resisted getting married, much to Brad's dismay, and as they lie next to one another, they share requests that elicit from each other an "I do" in response to desires that each has about their forthcoming parenting experience. It's one of the more touching love scenes I've seen in recent movies, without a touch between them or a hint of naked skin. Their love was still palpably displayed.
This is a feel-good movie, in the truest sense of the words. It touches you, makes you think, and reminds us that parenting is important and serious business.
"Just A Guy" Batting Average: "Away We Go" = Home Run (not suitable for younger kids due to its coarse language and sexual situations)
Batting Average Definitions:
Strikeout: Don't waste your time.
Single: Unless you're desperate for a night out: rental at best, wait for the DVD.
Double: Good, although maybe only at matinee prices: can wait for the DVD.
Triple: Worth full, nighttime price, and a solid hit.
Home Run: Excellent, all-around movie, worth seeing in a theatre. Go.
Grand Slam: Run, don't walk to this one. See the first weekend. Not to be missed. Buy the DVD, too.
|Bruce Sallan gave up his showbiz career a decade ago to raise his two boys, full-time, now 13 and 16. His internationally syndicated column, A DAD'S POINT-OF-VIEW, is his take on the challenges of parenthood and male/female issues, both as a single dad and now, newly remarried, in a blended family. Join Bruce's A DAD'S POINT-OF-VIEW fan page at Facebook. To contact Bruce, visit his new website brucesallan.com.|