SPOILER ALERT: Plot Points Are Revealed in This Piece
So I’m a big John Krasinski fan. I’m a big Maya Rudolph fan. When I heard that they were starring in a film together, “Away We Go,” I was excited. When I learned it was a romantic comedy, I thought it would be sweet. I’m a little late to the game as this film was released in theatres in 2009 and is already on DVD. But for Christmas I got it and my wife and I watched it. “Away We Go” is a sweet film; I’ll start by saying that. However there were at least three main problems with this film which need to be addressed.
Problem # 1: Director: “Away We Go,” is a quiet, art house film. Directed by big budget blockbuster director Sam Mendes. I shouldn’t say that; Sam Mendes has directed some thoughtful films. I enjoyed “American Beauty.” I enjoyed “Jarhead.” I enjoyed “Revolutionary Road.” I even enjoyed “Road to Perdition.” But these were all big, loud films with flashy sets and careful stoking of major stars egos. I mean, Leo DiCaprio, Annette Benning, Tom Hanks, Kate Winslet, Kevin Spacey; these are all old hands plying their trade. Despite the fact that Maya Rudolph has been around a while and John Krasinski has been bigger than anyone in recent years, these are still largely untapped wells from the Hollywood film cesspool. That is these are actors who are still on the people’s side. Even forgetting the two leads film history, this was a small, sweet story which was somehow corrupted by the directors BOLD HEADINGS to each section, splashy cutaways, and lush rolling landscapes. This gets me to my second problem with “Away We Go.”
Problem #2: Transportation: My wife and I have been to all 48 contiguous United States and it was not easy. We had to beg and borrow for everything we had and even that usually wasn’t enough. Krasinski and Rudolph in this film just sort of pick up and leave their admittedly ramshackle home and take to the skies. When Rudolph gets stopped at the airport for being able to board, they just pick up and get on a train! No biggie. There are two problems with that: money and availability. I know they sort of scuffed off the fact that they can “work from anywhere.” But they didn’t ever work (Krasinski took ONE work call on the road). Working and traveling is tough. This toughness was not brought out in the film. Secondly about availablity. When my wife and I are stationary I’ve worked in hotels and have had guests have to stay over for days at a time because they can’t get where they need to be. Flights are cancelled, trains don’t go there, the bus layover in Chicago is as long as the trip from Stamford to Austin. You get the idea. People don’t just move seamlessly from situation to situation. The travel is where some of the greatest drama can happen.
Problem #3: Simplicity: This is the third problem with “Away We Go,” and one which is not easily fixed. There is no replacement for real drama. The fact that the only tension in the film was when Krasinski was trying to get their unborn babies heartbeat made me shut off as the viewer. The characters were tough to get behind emotionally; I had no reason to care whether or not these two would stay together. I also had no reason to believe they wouldn’t.
Still, “Away We Go,” is a film worth seeing in spite of all my grievances. Maybe I feel this way because this story struck such a chord with my own story. But upon reflection the chimes rang hollow. I wish there had been a little more of the reality of the potential situation these two were in to get me to really open up and care about these characters and their story.