Sunday, November 29, 2009
Away We Go
I love good writing in movies. You don't normally see it too often. Luckily, Dave Eggers, a very talented writer, has been turning to screenplays lately. He just finished working on his adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are, and here he has created a wonderfully smart romantic comedy, Away We Go.
Away We Go is a film he co-wrote with his wife, Vendela Vida. It stars Maya Rudolph, who is amazing in a dramatic role, and John Krasinski, who plays a similar role that he's used to: a mellow, easy-going, funny-but-lovable guy. Having been created by a married couple, one would wonder if the roles are in any way similar to their own relationship. I wonder if the characters are closely bound to the writers themselves.
The film is about a couple, not married, who become pregnant. When they visit Burt's parents, they drop a bombshell that they are moving thousands of miles away. On the way home, Burt and Verona discuss why they're even staying where they live, in New England. They think they are "fuck ups," and decide that this new baby will help them become better people.
The couple decides that they will move to somewhere new for a fresh start. So, they visit all of their friends and family that live around the country to decide where they will move to. Along the way, they meet some crazy people who shed different perspectives on raising a family.
They travel to Phoenix to visit Verona's crazy old boss. They are too outspoken and treat their children like they are crazy science expirements. Then they travel to Tucson to visit Verona's sister where Verona and her sister discuss their deceased parents, drawing upon absent parents and death. Then they travel to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Burt's childhood friend. She is too "granola" and over-the-top with being an earthy mother, and they leave after they offend them with buying a stroller since it makes the mother "push away the baby when it should be held close."
Next, they travel to Montreal to visit their college friends. They have a diverse family of children, all adopted, all different races, all different ages. The woman cannot become pregnant, even though they keep trying. It is a real stress on their relationship, but it shows how strongly a family can be created even if it isn't blood deep. Finally, they travel to Miami to visit Burt's brother who was recently left by his wife, leaving his brother to raise his daughter alone. Burt freaks out, trying to find her and console his brother, but he speaks with Verona, and that's just the way the world is. You can't save every child and every family; you can only make your own.
When in Miami, Burt and Verona have an INCREDIBLE discussion on a trampoline. It is extremely brilliant writing which immediately hooked me into this movie. There are moments in the film where the characters speak these deep, wise words that are absoluytely captivating. I was sucked into the screen, drawn into the wisdom, and I could only think of how much I miss watching good movies that communicate this caliber of intelligence.
In the end, Burt and Verona end up buying her childhood home to fix up. It's a wonderful last scene as they sit on the porch and say final words about raising the baby. A wonderful ending to bring them back to where they always belonged.
Throughout the movie, the couple has their own problems. How will they raise the child? Why won't Verona marry Burt? Where will they live? Will they succeed?
What I like about the movie is that it's realistic. Verona never accepts Burt's marriage proposal. They learn to accept things about each other, but it doesn't mean they'll be bad parents. They've learned a lot from their journey, and all they can do is give the most love they can to their child. It's a really beautiful story in how this message comes across.
Here is one excellent quotations from the movie that hopefully gets across the smart writing:
"It's all those good things you have in you. The love, the wisdom, the generosity, the selflessness, the patience. The patience! At 3 A.M. when everyone's awake because Ibrahim is sick and he can't find the bathroom and he's just puked all over Katki's bed. When you blink, when you blink! And it's 5:30 and it's time to get up again and you know you're going to be tired all day, all week, all your fucking life. And you're thinking what happened to Greece? What happened to swimming naked off the coast of Greece? And you have to be willing to make the family out of whatever you have."
I hope to find more, especially from the scene on the trampoline.
Not only is it good writing, but it has GREAT cameos from great actors and actresses. Maggie Gyllenhall, Jim Gaffigan, Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Paul Schnieder, Allison Janney, Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey, and Josh Hamilton have incredible small roles that are either hilarious and touching. And, Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski blew me away. They are normally in comic roles, but they do a great job of making you laugh but also being very serious. Their acting was incredible. They stepped it up to a new level.
This is a MUST-SEE movie. It's one of the best I've seen in a long, long time. This is one I'd like to own and would watch over again (and I'm not one to usually do that). Whatever Dave Eggers does, follow. Read his books. Watch his movies. Read the books where he selects the best "non-required reading." He's a smart man to trust, read, and learn from!
So what do you think of Away We Go?