Away We Go Review
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Fresh from his heavy award season drama, Revolutionary Road, director Sam Mendes lightens things up a bit in Away We Go—but only for a while.

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are Burt and Verona, two thirty-something expectant parents who, like any soon-to-be parents, want everything to be perfect for their baby. But when they discover that their baby’s only grandparents (played by Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) are packing up and moving to Antwerp, Burt and Verona decide to hit the road and find the perfect new place to start their family.

Their journey takes them from Arizona to Madison to Montreal, to visit family members and old friends. Along they way, they learn a lot about parenting—though, mainly, how not to raise their children—while Verona is forced to face the heartbreak in her past before she can settle in to her future.

  
 
For about the first hour, Away We Go is a fun and folksy bohemian comedy—an occasionally madcap adventure that follows two adorably clueless characters as they travel from one hilarious debacle to the next. Verona’s brash former boss, Lily (Allison Janney), who boisterously (and publically) insults her children, turns them off to the idea of living in Phoenix. And Burt’s wacky childhood friend, LN (Maggie Gyllenhaal), makes them think twice about moving to Madison. Those scenes are often awkward and even a little bit uncomfortable, but they’re some of the film’s funniest moments (especially the scene involving Burt, a stroller, and LN’s young son).

But then the fun comes crashing to a halt. Just when Burt and Verona think they’ve found their new home—the perfect place to raise their family—the comedy hits a brick wall. From then on, the film is surprisingly heavy and depressing. Disaster strikes time and time again as Mendes smacks the audience in the face with the unpleasant realities of life.

Have you ever planned a day at an amusement park, only to get rained out when you’re just about to get on your favorite ride? That’s what it’s like to watch Away We Go. It’s so full of promise—and it’s so much fun in the beginning—but then the dark clouds roll in, and it’s just not fun anymore.

Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with comedies that end with some sort of a message. In fact, I like my comedies to have some sort of a point. I’m even okay with some drama from time to time, mixed in with the laughs. But Away We Go is extremely uneven—and, after the over-the-top wackiness in the first part, the end feels even heavier than it would in the average light comedy. I loved the beginning of the film—but, when it was all over, I left the theater feeling anxious and disillusioned. So if you do decide to see it, you might want to walk out early, while it’s still fun.

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