Away We Go

Dubious American Road

         
 

26 June 2009| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

No other film in recent memory has a duller and more washed out color palette than Away We Go. Why is this film so atrocious to look at? I’ve had more soothing adventures counting dust bunnies in my grandpa’s attic for an hour. This road movie – which tours us through Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida and Canada – stars John Krasinski (TV’s “The Office”) and Maya Rudolph (former “SNL” alum) as a couple concerned for their future when they learn a baby is on the way. This film becomes yet another example that the enormously appealing Krasinski just cannot get a big screen break.

Basically Burt and Verona (Krasinki and Rudolph) travel to visit friends and family so they can find a suitable place to raise their child. What we get is a series of episodes, a majority of them place Burt and Verona reacquainting with depressives, loud-mouths and obnoxious people from their past before figuring that they can’t move there. Hold on. Couldn’t they have foreseen all this without making the trip? The most loathsome episode is a visit with Maggie Gyllenhaal – an obnoxious hippie-collegiate (oxymoron?) baby momma who believes strollers keeps a mom’s love at a distance from her young. She eventually shrieks angrily at the sight of a stroller.

Burt and Verona just want to be good people, and Krasinski and Rudolph are asked simply to be ordinary in their roles and occasionally bring their ironic wink and staggered smiles to the bitterness that courts them. The screenplay by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida finds affection for these two but is relentless in its search for coarse and grating drama. “If our country’s shit, everyone else is just flies on our shit.” Of course, why not plaster that sentiment onto the film’s visual pattern?

Ugh, the dreariness! Those dark palling skies. Those grubby and dusty interiors. Interiors or exteriors, director Sam Mendes cannot make a pretty shot. Wait a minute. Sam Mendes? The director of “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road?” Who could have ever predicted if we didn’t see the man’s name in the credits? I certainly can’t believe this artsy-fart doodle is by the same man who created such elaborate and vivid artistry in his previous works.

Before Mendes ever came into making film he directed theater, and high-gloss theatricality is what he has made himself famous for. Why in the world did he ever make this film, especially when the script was replete with annoying stock characters? It’s as if Mendes took Happy Madison cardboard characters and figured he could somehow manage to make them more real with his genie touch. But why was he interested in this material anyway, and why was he interested in making a low-budget film? It’s as if Mendes wanted to see what would happen if he could go fly against his own professional characteristics by shooting fast and undisciplined.

Coming up with insignificance is Mendes’ dubious achievement here. What’s truly perplexing is that here is a director that has carelessly soured his career oeuvre. Imagine if Stanley Kubrick had followed up “The Shining” and “Full Metal Jacket” with something as frivolous as “Sweet Home Alabama.” Right, like that would have ever happened with Stanley Kubrick! Parting note: “Away We Go” sucked the life spirit out of me upon exiting, leaving me depressed for hours.

98 Minutes. Rated R.

DRAMA / DOWNHEARTED / BAD MOVIES WE HATE

Film Cousins: “Baby Boom” (1987); “She’s Having a Baby” (1988); “Fresh Horses” (1988); “Revolutionary Road” (2008).

 

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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