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A Dad Reviews "Away We Go"

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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 movie poster

"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.

8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Denise June 16, 2009, 11:58 AM

Based on your review, Bruce, I can’t wait to see this movie. I, too, have older children and still occasionally long for those wonderful early moments of being a mom. This movie sounds like a perfect combination of heart and soul.

David June 17, 2009, 6:53 PM

This is what I call an outstanding review. It really gets across to me what I can expect regarding this movie. It expresses an opinion about the quality of the movie. This is great information to have at my fingertips as I make a decision to go to the cineplex, or wait for the DVD. Thank you, Bruce, for giving your readers useful information for making informed choices.

Ashley June 19, 2009, 1:44 PM

Okay, you’ve convinced me. Rather see this than Transformers. Ha Ha. Seriously, does sound like a heartwarming film and given the crap in our lives lately, it might feel good.

Bill Connors June 20, 2009, 4:26 AM

I’ve been debating whether or not to see this film in a theatre (vs. renting later) but your warm-hearted review has tipped the scale in favor of seeing it “at the movies”. Thanks for your cynicism-free approach to what sounds like a great film.

Jeff June 20, 2009, 11:58 AM

I thought American Beauty was fantastic, so I’d tend to give this director the benefit of the doubt anyway. After reading your review, now I know I want to see this one!

Shani June 23, 2009, 6:37 PM

Wow this is a great review. I have been wanting to see the movie because I love both John Krasinsky and Maya Rudolph- but you just sealed it for me.

ilene July 7, 2009, 6:04 PM

I am always struck by how wildly different opinions can be about the same movie, even among friends and family. But since we all watch a film through a prism colored by our personal histories, it’ really fun to hear why it worked or didn’t work. I didn’t care for this movie - found the main couple rather uninteresting and their friends over the top - but I’m impressed to hear how and why it worked for you. You make your case beautifully!

Monica July 21, 2009, 1:06 AM

I’m with you on the trampoline scene. In fact this scene changed my opinion about the movie because we finally learn the truth about why she doesn’t want to get married. Up to that point I it seemed to be another Hollywood movie promoting having a kid for fun without the commitment of marriage (which drives me nuts given I’m still traditional when it comes to love and marriage).

Glad to hear you liked it too!

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