Friday, October 2, 2009

Away We Go

"Away We Go" (from its title among other things) brims with jauntiness. You know this from the trailers, but still, it's overwhelming. Of course, Mr. Reitman's 2007 film that I do not care to name again was the same, but at least it was smartly written, acted pitch-perfectly, and very funny. This film is none of those things. It's the chronicle of a baby, one not yet born. Burt and Verona are the parents, and John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are the actors who play them. Oh, and Sam Mendes is the director who directs them. Surprised? So was I when I saw the trailers. He doesn't particularly have an imprint. Well, other than that of stark set design like that of "Road to Perdition" and "Revolutionary Road." In "Away We Go," there were a couple shots and sets I admired, but probably more trademarks are offered by screenwriters Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, who are spouses. I may be mistaken, but I think Eggers has a reputation for being quirky.

And, man oh man, is there quirky written all over this film. I will go as far as to say no character in the film is realistic. There are a lot, since Burt and Verona go visit a lot of people and try to see where they want to set up their family. First stop: Burt's parents, played by Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels. Burt wants to be close to them so that they can see the baby as he gets brought up, but the parents have other plans, wanting selfishly to move far away. Oh, and the way they say it! This little jaunt sets the tone for the whole film. Bosses, sisters, distressed brothers, friends turned hippies, friends rendered horribly sad by lack of childbirth. All are visited in due time.

Good performances are given by few. In fact, by only one: comedian Jim Gaffigan gives an inspired and bizarre performance as the husband of a wacko Allison Janney character who delivers line after ridiculous line with comic ease. Hey, he's a professional. Or, at least, he's the only professional acting to his full ability, despite being trapped in a silly script. Some people may enjoy it, but for me, it's mostly on par with "(500) Days of Summer" in lack of real amusement. And there's another reason I bring up that film. There is a scene involving the screaming of inappropriate language, which is played for laughs. If this is a new trend in comedy, that's pretty awful. It's also pretty ironic that Krasinski (who, judging from this film, should abandon film acting and just stay full-time on his role in "The Office") has directed an adaptation of "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" by the great writer David Foster Wallace, a good friend of Eggers'. Hopefully it will be something different and better than this. If it's quirky, at least give it's quirks a point. This film is not a good example in that field. C-

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I hadn't heard anything about this movie until I read your review, so I have no opinion. It does sound like it was way over the top.