May 21, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 30 July 2009 09:56
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to watch with their children. This week’s pick is the new film by director Sam Mendes, Away We Go.
There is a compelling simplicity about the characters and situations in Sam Mendes’ Away We Go, along with a clarity of thought and reason that we don’t often see at the movies these days. It seems we go to the movies too many times just to go, rarely expecting to be thrilled by something we see, often admitting we could have done just as well renting a DVD of an old classic.
This film feels like an older film in many ways, much like the “road” pictures of the 1970s, such as the Gene Hackman-Al Pacino film Scarecrow or Art Carney’s Oscar-winning Harry and Tonto. Like those earlier movies, Away We Go isn’t really about very much and, in fact, not all that much even happens. But action and plot advancement aren’t always necessary when the characters are as appealing as what are offered here. And, for a character study, that’s about as good as it gets.
Bert and Verona are likable people. They are somewhere in their 30s, successful, caring and smart. They are also, for the first time, expecting to be parents. And they take this chapter in their lives very seriously. They don’t want to “skimp” on what could be given to a child, and experienced as a family, so they decide to take a trip to find the best place to raise the child. Like every good road picture, the journey begins with hope.
And, like the best of this genre, the road is filled with colorful characters and entertaining situations. Of course, it’s not as easy for Bert and Verona to settle on a place, otherwise the film would be very short. Instead we are treated to a wide range of colorful people, some of whom delight the couple, some who are truly disgusting, and some who frankly frighten them to death.
It’s not that Burt and Verona are perfect. Far from it. They have never really grown up, still living in the manner of overgrown students in a house that is probably not child ready. Nor are they, at the outset, ready to look outside themselves in a way that every parent must. They are yet to be challenged to become a bit less self-adbsorbed, a bit less idealistic, a bit more giving. They have yet to grow up so they can help someone else grow up.
So it’s no surprise that, as they encounter their various relatives along the way, they look down a bit at people who have already made the compromises they will have to make soon. Away We Go never offers any easy answers; it simply reveals the journey all expecting parents must take. And for which our children may never be fully grateful.
The performances make the film sing. John Krasinski and Mayo Rudolph are pitch-perfect as the young people, with sterling supporting performances coming from a gallery of character including favorites Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Holding the potentially disconnected proceedings together is the sure hand of director Mendes who, again, proves his skill at bringing real people to the screen in memorable moments.
As parents, we likely remember those anxious months before the new experience of children began. You may see a bit of yourself in Away We Go and your older children may learn something about you.
Away We Go
* Content: High. This is a marvelous cinema snack with just enough movie-going calories to make you feel quite satiated.
* Entertainment: High. As with the best of snacks, this one is tasty, filled with fun characters and leaves no after taste.
* Message: Medium. It says a lot about would-be parents and the things we learn to overlook as we travel the parenthood path.
* Relevance: Medium. Anyone looking for an alternative to a summer blockbuster may be quite happy at this little movie.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: High. Your older children may actually ask, “did you worry about these things when you were about to have us?”
4 Popcorn Buckets
|< Prev||Next >|
The requested URL /components/com_soyd/tent.php was not found on this server.