Review in a Hurry: If you can get past the initial smugness, there's a refreshing amount of charm and insight to be found in director Sam Mendes' travelogue of two expectant parents (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph).
The Bigger Picture: Away We Go is a hipster's wet dream: An eccentric young couple travel cross-country in their flippantly beat-up car, trying to find a new place to call "home." They do battle with ghoulish grown-ups who try to crush their whimsical spirits, while meaningful acoustic rock punctuates their moments of reflection.
Pregnant and panicked, Verona (Rudolph) asks her boyfriend Bert (Krasinski), "Are we f--kups?" Bert, an insurance salesmen with chunky glasses and a buoyant sense of quirk, replies with an emphatic, "No!" See, Burt and Verona may be screwups, but it doesn't matter because everyone else around this sensitive couple is way more effed up. And aren't we all?
The two wander dreamily between cities, visiting friends and looking for the right place to raise their unborn. The sojourn is, of course, much more existential than geographic. The pregnancy becomes a referendum on their ramshackle existence and ability to raise a happy child if they themselves are just unhappy, well, children.
The pace is open and airy, and the chemistry between the couple gives the story a warm glow. But screenwriters Dave Eggers and Vendela Vita relish, too much, in looking down on others who rightfully deserve scorn: Allison Janney's a burnt-to-a-crisp, soused-in-gin Tucson mom who humiliates her children, and Maggie Gyllenhaal nearly throws the movie off its graceful axis with an explosive portrayal of a New Age mom gone bad.
Fortunately, Krasinki is able to anchor the movie with a limber, melancholy performance—and doesn't draw too heavily from his overflowing reservoir of nice-guy charm. And though this may be a common story about two mixed-up kids just trying to find their way in this no-good world, it has a unique and honest quality that's hard to find at the movies today.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Mendes uses way too many deliberate close-ups on frowny faces while moony indie music plays. It wear thins and comes off as a gimmick, rather than sincere rumination.
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