Perhaps because Dave Eggers penned the script (and his “Heartbreaking Work” was/is the quintessential novel of Generation X), and perhaps because Sam Mendes was the director (and his “American Beauty” is one of the quintessential films of late ’90s/early 2000’s suburban malaise), I expected great things from “Away We Go.” And while it was light and funny and had a great premise, it never really amounted to much. In fact, it just sort of felt like an extended collection of Saturday Night Live sketches, stitched together into a film.
Yes, the dialogue is often smart, and yes, the direction is skilled. John Krasinski is a likable lead, strange and quirky in very different ways than his character from “The Office” (giving us a unique experience in this film), and Maya Rudolph shows surprising range, going from slapstick to bitchy to heartbreak to strong, sometimes all in a single scene. For the two leads alone, the movie is definitely worth watching, but I suppose I just expected more.
“Away We Go” could have made an amazing statement about the current generation and about child-rearing/raising practices; the idea that a pregnant couple would take the opportunity to decide where they wanted to live when they raised their child, would forsake any firm attachments to either of their families, would travel the country in an effort to truly formulate their own unique plans for how/where they wanted to be parents (and to hell with what society told them about how they were supposed to start their family)…that’s an incredible idea, an incredible concept, an incredible opportunity that Eggers and Mendes had, and the cast is up to the challenge. But in the end, it’s just a light comedy.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, except that this movie could have been so much more.