Directed by Sam Mendes
Away We Go
“Away We Go” is a light and lovely look at one of the great mysteries of pregnancy: What is the baby going to look like?, What if it’s going to change our lives?, Will we still love each other after the baby’s born? and about a half dozen other questions that don’t in fact have answers at all, but we find the answers as we live with the child.
“Away We Go” was written by that husband-and-wife team Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, and directed – as a kind of lark, I think, by Sam Mendes as a way of getting far from his angst-ridden exercises like “Revolutionary Road” and “American Beauty.” There isn’t a moment of horror, not a smidgeon of turmoil in it.
Burt and Verona (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) are pregnant and don’t know the answers to those questions, along with about a hundred others. They also are not married, though they’ve lived togetther for years. They think it would be good to visit some people who’ve been influential in their lives and see what can be learned from them. The first place they try is his parents, where they discover that his parents are planning to move to Belgium and have no interest in being grandparents to the child. Next, they visit Arizona, where Lily (a former boss of Maya’s), played by Allison Janney, is no help. From there they go to St. Paul (Maggie Gyllenhall), who has shortened her name to the two initials L.N., to Paul’s brother in Miami and to Montreal, where their friend who couldn’t have children has adopted a whole – I was going to say menagerie, but one doesn’t say that about children.
In all of this, Burt and Verona remain surprisingly calm and detached – probably my first quibble with the film. Why are they not affected by people they’ve traveled thousands of miles to visit and learn from? Second, much as I like some of director Sam Mendes’s work, I don’t believe he has any kind of comic sense; he could have made this into a much more delicious comedy; instead he plays everything pretty straight, when every scene calls out for a comic touch. Nevertheless, “Away We Go” has enough originality and its leads are so warm that we tend to forgive it its trespasses.