AWAY WE GO
Searching for a Real Home
Release Date: June 05, 2009
Starring: Maya Rudolph, John Krasinski,
Chris Messina, Melanie
Lynskey, Jeff Daniels,
Catherine O’Hara, Maggie
Gyllenhaal, Paul Schneider,
Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan,
Josh Hamilton, and Carmen
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features/Universal
Director: Sam Mendes
Executive Producer: Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda and
Producer: Edward Saxon, Marc Turtletaub
and Peter Saraf
Writer: Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida
Address Comments To:James Schamus, CEO
A Division of NBC Universal and General Electric
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
The first major problem shows up in the movie’s tasteless first scene, where the unmarried couple is in bed engaging in sex. At the end of the scene, Burt discovers that his longtime live-in girlfriend, Verona, is pregnant. Six months later, they are upset to learn that Burt’s parents are moving out of Colorado, thus eliminating the couple’s main reason for living there.
Burt and Verona embark on an ambitious journey around the United States and Canada to visit friends and family, and determine where they should live. Verona is a graphics designer who no longer sees any point to getting married, and Burt is an insurance salesman. So, both of them can find jobs virtually anywhere.
Their journey takes them to two cities in Arizona, to Wisconsin, to Montreal, Canada, and finally to Miami to help Burt’s brother, whose wife just left him and their child. The journey allows them to define home, family, love, and commitment in unexpected, but somewhat inspiring, ways. Through that experience, they discover where they belong.
AWAY WE GO is one of the year’s better-directed, written and acted movies. It is funny, winsome, sometimes sad, heartwarming, and poignant, with appealing lead characters. Maya Rudolph of SATURDAY NIGHT LIFE is a revelation as the steady, but non-traditional Verona. Chances are, she will vie for the Oscar in next year’s competition. John Krasinski of TV’s THE OFFICE complements her extremely well as Burt. It is very easy to believe that their characters are totally in love.
AWAY WE GO gives viewers an inspiring definition of home and love that is somewhat redemptive and biblical. One positive comment about love being the glue of a positive relationship was particularly insightful and redemptive. The movie also affirms life. That said, there is no spiritual foundation to the movie. It also doesn’t fully endorse marriage, though it doesn’t attack that institution either, even though Verona repeatedly says she doesn’t want to get married. In fact, one of the families and marriages depicted in the movie is a very positive one, though the couple depicted does have a tragic ongoing secret that elicits extreme sympathy from discerning viewers. Even so, it’s annoying that the movie does not affirm traditional marriage and family more strongly.
One of the funniest, more moral scenes is Verona and Burt’s encounter with a married hippie couple at a Wisconsin college. In the scene, Burt becomes righteously indignant about the New Age couple’s stupid, loony, self-righteous, and permissive, politically correct, radical theories about how to raise children. Conservative, Christian viewers would be cheering Burt on! It is one of the funniest scenes in a movie this year.
All that said, AWAY WE GO has several other major moral problems that are annoying. First of all, it contains plenty of gratuitous, unnecessary foul language. Some of that inappropriate crude language comes from Verona’s vulgar former boss, Lily, who offers Verona and viewers a really bad example of motherhood. Some of the crude language also contains vulgar sexual references, but such instances happily seem to be few and far between.
Overall, therefore, AWAY WE GO is a mixed experience. A more traditional, moral and even Christian viewpoint could have made this movie much more family friendly and appropriate, as well as even more inspiring. It is much less offensive, however, than Sam Mendes, the director’s, earlier acclaimed (but abhorrent) movie of the 1990s, the Oscar-winning AMERICAN BEAUTY.
AWAY WE GO is funny, winsome and sometimes terribly sad, heartwarming and poignant, with appealing lead characters. Maya Rudolph of SATURDAY NIGHT LIFE is a revelation as the steady, but non-traditional Verona. She could be an Oscar contender. This movie has an inspiring, redemptive message about the importance of home, family and love, but it contains too much unnecessary foul language, including some very crude sexual references. Also, though it does not attack traditional marriage, it doesn’t 100% affirm it either. Overall, viewers should exercise extreme caution with AWAY WE GO.